5 Practical Ways to Respond to Trump’s Refugee Ban
I want to begin first by saying this isn’t a political post, this is a love post. This isn’t about whether or not you are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, whether you’re concerned about national security or whether you’re concerned about refugees.
This is about being human and this is about our call to love one another.
This is about empathy and compassion and about moving beyond our fear and standing for what’s right. This is about having a conversation.
If we have a heart for missions, this might be the greatest need of our time, right now, to love refugees.
If you’re like me, you’ve been inundated this past week with President Trump’s executive order last Friday that bans all immigrants and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days, and opens the door to more country-based bans in future. It also bans all refugee admissions for 120 days — and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. It slashes the US’s refugee quota for 2017 to less than 50% of the level set in 2016. (if you like smart facts you can read this article on the order)
That means refugee families who were planning on resettling here to start a new life will no longer be able to.
It was sad irony that his order went out on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember what can happen when hate triumphs over love. One twitter account read out the names of Jewish refugees who were denied entry into the United States in 1939 and were forced to return to Europe, where they were killed. It was a harrowing reminder of the danger of turning away from our fellow man.
Some people say we must separate government from our beliefs, that we have a right to protect our borders. It’s true, we do have that right. But is it just to penalize a people group who are innocent? The individuals we are banning are not the ones we should be protecting ourselves from.
If you’re worried about national security as an American, it might ease your mind to hear the crazy statistics that you are more likely to be killed in an auto accident or even to die from your own clothes igniting or melting than by immigrant linked terrorism.
No person accepted to the United States as a refugee, Syrian or otherwise, has been implicated in a major fatal terrorist attack since the Refugee Act of 1980 set up systematic vetting procedures for accepting refugees into the United States.
This ban would have prevented none of the major attacks on our country.
This ban also comes at a time when the world faces its biggest refugee crisis since WWII. Syrian refugees who are currently facing one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time, have been singled out the most.
Most refugees from the Middle East are women and children who have suffered the assaults of ISIS terrorists and civil war.
This order has also negatively affected the work on the ground by many missionaries, humanitarian workers, and non profits who are providing love and aid in the Middle East. This week, Iraq’s parliament approved a “reciprocity measure” that, if approved by the prime minister, will prohibit Americans from entering the country.
This means that refugees who cannot get help in America may not even be able to get it in their own countries where they need it most.
All of this makes me incredibly sad.
I’ve been saddened by reading the reports of Syrian families fleeing severe trauma and violence on the brink of hope at a new life, turned away at our borders, or about little boys like Samir from Iraq who needed a surgery who will no longer be able receive it in America. Or how about the brilliant university students studying at Brown and Harvard who were told that their multiple entry visas were no longer valid and were turned away at the airport. Can you imagine returning from winter break to be told that your home is no longer your home?
I’m also thinking of all my beautiful women and children fleeing war in Congo who I loved and worked with for years who would be dead now if they had been turned away at Uganda’s borders.
For me, this story hits home.
I want you to imagine for a moment being in one of these person’s shoes.
Imagine the terror you must have felt every day living in a war zone, imagine your home destroyed and you have nothing to go back to. Imagine you finally have gone through a long, extensive vetting process and are ready to be resettled in your new country, your new home, only to find out that that home no longer exists. Imagine the hopelessness and senselessness you would feel in that moment because someone decided you might be a threat. You, a person fleeing the threat of your own government, who has jumped through a million hoops and vetting to get here.
But if you’re like me, you don’t want to just read articles on Facebook and click on sad emoji’s. I personally hate arguments about politics, but I do like conversation and I like a real plan for how to respond.
So here are 5 Practical Steps to Respond to Trump’s Refugee Ban:
1. Love anyway
This means to move beyond our fear of national security, beyond the arguments, and find a refugee, a minority, an immigrant to love. It’s highly unlikely that you will fight for someone you’ve never had a relationship with. Get to know someone vastly different from you. Hear their stories and perspective. Love them with your voice and with your actions and with your volunteering. Choose to not fear what you don’t know or don’t understand and challenge those in your church or around you to respond with open arms to welcome refugees. These choices don’t have to be so polarized. You can want to protect your nation, and still not want refugees to be banned.
And let’s not just love our immigrant and refugee neighbors, let’s also love each other by not getting nasty and rude on Facebook or in blog comments.
Let’s prioritize relationship over beliefs that might separate us.
Have discussions and conversations, challenge each other with love. Let’s try to hear each other’s side and try to understand one another’s point of view before creating division. Let’s pray for our president whether or not we agree with him.
Let’s not lose kindness for the sake of our ideals.
2. Love your neighbor
At first some evangelical Christians might think its good that Trump mentioned he wants to focus only on letting in Christians, but this is faulty thinking. Jesus did not discriminate between people when He loved them and healed them, regardless of their beliefs. He ministered to Jews, Gentiles, Samaritans alike. If we are to be one in Christ, we have to start with unity, not separation. We need to accept verses reject. We need to look across what we perceive to be “enemy lines” and see the person, a child of God whom He loves.
By singling out all Muslims we have thwarted our very efforts to reach Muslims with God’s love. @saritahartz
These aggressive, separatist actions that undermine peace, are the very actions that fuel hatred, fanaticism, and terrorism in Muslim countries all around the world.
If we ever want to sit at a table and share our beliefs with one another, if we want people to know a love like we do, if we ever want peace, we have to stop demonizing that which we find to be different or “other.”
It is this same “other” mentality, this “us” vs. “them” rhetoric which has fueled shameful acts of racism, homophobia, and even genocide @saritahartz
3. Raise Your Voice
Sign a petition to repeal the refugee ban here.
Contact your representative and senators and ask them to speak out against the ban. Here’s an easy way to contact your representatives about the issues you care about. It’s not that hard or scary, so choose to take that step. By raising your voices you can change policy.
4. Donate & Volunteer
There are many amazing organizations working with refugees around the world and in the States. I personally donate to and am looking into volunteering with several of these organizations.
Preemptive Love Coalition has been on the ground in the Middle East for years providing families with emergency food and medicine, and the tools to start over through capital, job opportunities, and even life saving heart surgeries for children. They have a very good track record of loving across lines.
World Relief is a wonderful organization providing relief to refugees overseas and in the States. You can work with their local offices in cities of refuge to love on, build relationships with, and donate goods to refugee families coming over or already here. For example World Relief Sacramento has several volunteer opportunities from airport pickup’s to hosting, to providing furniture for a new home.
We Welcome Refugees is a wonderful advocacy group to partner with to get your church or neighborhood more involved.
5. Be in it for the long haul
Protests and posts on social media are wonderful, but they are not going to get the job done for the long haul.
They leave us with a “feel good feeling” of having done something, but do little to effect the change we want to see or keep us engaged long term. Let’s stay connected to people and organizations in this field of promoting peace and let’s keep working together. Let’s keep the checks and balances in place to hold our government accountable to the ideals we stand for. First refugees. What’s next? What other human rights might be at risk? Will we not act until it affects us and our families personally?
Let’s remember that love is the only thing that can destroy hatred. Let’s not give up on standing for love. Let’s avoid burnout, but let’s keep working.
I want to protect our country just as much as anyone, but I’m also aware I could have just as easily been born in Syria instead of the United States and I would want access to the hope and freedom our country represents. I don’t want us to undermine the very values that make us a unique nation, the values we stand for: liberty for all.
How have you been responding to Trump’s refugee ban?