Refugees – “No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”

This is all going to be a jumble since my heart has been in a jumble over this already.

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My eyes sting with tears when I see images of their faces. I’ve read a few of their stories. But not too many. My heart was too heavy.

I deliberately avoided the news and social media for weeks because I could not bear to see the body of the little boy in the red shirt washed ashore on the beach.

I saw the photos of the traumatized dirty-faced boy from Aleppo–an ancient country many of our presidential candidates did not even know existed. Did not even know was a country. I tried hard not to look to closely, but the vacant, hopeless stare in his eyes is haunting.

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My son Zack recently graduated in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. He lived six months in Turkey and Jordan. This is his friend Abu.

abu

And Zack’s Facebook post on September 6, 2015.

Every month I have the chance to fast and pray for something particularly troubling or a trial in my life or someone else’s. Last night it was clear what I should dedicate today’s fast to. This is my friend Abu Rashad. He is a Syrian refugee living in Jordan. He works in a small vegetable garden behind a school and sends the money he makes home to his family. He is the father of four children who were all severely injured when their house was bombed, most are now missing limbs. One day he showed us a photo of his two year old nephew who was killed in a bombing. Abu Rashad is one of the kindest and loving people I’ve ever met in my life. We’ve laughed, worked, eaten, cried, and prayed together. He is my friend and my brother. This fast is for him and for his people.

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A mother, separated from her children.

A 5 year old boy, separated from his mother.

A trusted man who has risked and sacrificed much to serve our country as a translator for nearly a decade.

A girl who was coming here to care for her sister who had to interrupt here studies here because was in a bad accident and has no one else to help her.

Two elderly people who were denied access to critical meds while they were detained.

Two children, US citizens, traveling with their mother, who was detained because she is from Somalia.

A distinguished scholar who was coming here at our invitation to help fight HIV/Aids.

Families. Professors and students from universities across the country. Doctors. Professionals. Scholars. Employees. Mothers. Fathers. Children. Sisters. Brothers.

People who were traveling here legally. People who in some cases have already invested and sacrificed much in order to comply with an already rigorous vetting process that takes a couple of years. People who in some cases literally have nowhere else to go and no one to turn to.

These are just a few of the people who were immediately affected by the executive order on immigration and refugees.* When, without any credible threat that had precipitated such measures in times past, we up and changed the rules with no apparent thought as to the people whose lives we would put in a tailspin.

Detained. Deported. Desperate.

I literally cried late Saturday evening when I saw the crowd attorneys dedicating their weekends, pro bono, to help these stranded travelers.

And again when I saw the news and realized there were still people being detained and deported on Sunday.

And again when I saw the news and realized there were still people being detained and deported today.

We are a nation of immigrants and refugees.

This–turning them away without forethought or good cause–is not who we are.

Note: Yes, I am aware that this has been done in the past by other presidents. Yes, I support safe borders and careful vetting. Here’s a link to the current vetting procedures.

Here are my primary objections:
1. This action was taken without credible threat. 2. We have actual video (not media reports) of this administration calling for a Muslim ban and of Giuliani boldly stating that Trump specifically asked him how to put a Muslim ban in place. No matter what they call it, I vehemently oppose a Muslim ban. If history has taught us nothing else, it should have taught us the perils in religious discrimination and persecution. 3. Due to the hastiness of this action there was no plan in place for those who are here legally but who were en route from other countries and those who have worked hard to comply with the already rigorous vetting process currently in place.

[Day 72 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]