“Give me your tired, your poor,
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!”
This poem by Emma Lazarus is graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands. The words inscribed on the pedestal of this wonderful gift from France have welcomed immigrants to the United States for over 100 years. Currently, many citizens of the United States are allowing the senseless violence of a few to shape their views of all immigrants. In contrast, despite the horrific attacks on France, President Francois Hollande promised to honor his commitment to take in tens of thousands of refugees. He said that France would do so despite concerns that refugees might pose a security threat to the country. (Think Progress)
While France attempts to heal its wounds after the attacks, she continues to welcome strangers from abroad. In contrast, President Trump has demonized refugees. “There’s been a contagion of fear sweeping the country that’s causing people to forget who we, as caring people of faith, are.” (The Nation)
Many individuals have made arguments that relate the problems of terrorism with illegal immigration in the United States. The United States has welcomed almost 2 million refugees since 1990, including hundreds of thousands from the Middle East. There have been dozens of terrorist attacks on American soil in that time, but none of them involved refugees. (The Hill)
We ask lawmakers and citizens to consider these queries for self-examination:
- Are we allowing fear to guide our responses to the current milieu?
- Are we embodying love in our actions?
- How is our action evidence of our belief in a loving and merciful God?
“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 48)
“O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Holy Quran: 2, 208)
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34