Letter: Raise your voices, address immigration, refugee policy

From: Michael Greven


The young couple who came to the U.S. were poor and from a country recovering from years of a horrible war waged by a leader known for unimaginable barbarity. They had lived through the atrocities and horrors of war and were now somehow trying to better their lives as well as the lives for their children they looked forward to having. Their education was modest, the woman a trained seamstress and the husband a machinist. Neither spoke English well. Their goals were simple: to find work, create a safe home, have food on the table and provide an education for their children. Those same basic aims are shared by the immigrants trying to come to this country today, whether they are coming from war-torn countries or from countries suffering through drought or political instability.

Most in the U.S. will never experience the suffering and deprivation experienced by refugees and immigrants fleeing economic and/or political upheaval. For that we are to be grateful. Had you or I been born in a different country, it could well be us looking at the U.S. and seeking opportunities for safety and stability for our loved ones. As I reflect on the hypocrisy and maliciousness of our current national leadership, I often think of the expression, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Our current government vilifies those who are in the greatest need of help and is perfectly willing to allow refugees to continue a life of misery in camps throughout the world in lieu of facilitating their entry to the U.S. This is unconscionable and in direct conflict with the “Christian,” family values in which our leaders drape themselves. The government also is ramping up deportations of families who have fled misery in order to make a better life for themselves here in the U.S. In so doing they require local government and law enforcement to cooperate with their efforts, making them instruments in a system that disrespects fundamental human dignity.

The young couple at the beginning of the article were my parents leaving the remnants of Nazi Germany. Despite coming from a former enemy country, they entered a simple and efficient immigration process and became citizens within a decade — a dignity no longer afforded the most vulnerable arrivals. I am hopeful that the people of this nation will soon once again appreciate the importance of opening our doors to those in need throughout the world. We will then raise our voices together and require that the government, and particularly the dysfunctional Congress, to address policies on immigration and refugees so that they better reflect the true values beautifully captured on the Statue of Liberty:

“Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”