What if the United States were no longer a secure place to live? What if men and boys feared being dragged from their beds and beheaded, r women and girls became war prizes, supermarket shelves were bare, schools that educate our children closed? When faced with death, most people will choose survival at any cost.
Though politicians boast about building the biggest fence to block those seeking illegal entry into this country, none has addressed the lack of legal course for those fleeing persecution to enter the United States.
Our legal immigration system, last addressed in 1990, is not responsive to the world we live in. For most immigrants fleeing persecution, there is no legal way to enter the United States. While Germany is expected to give shelter to more than 800,000 refugees by year’s end, the United States, which prides itself on welcoming the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, will take in a mere 70,000. Though this number will grow to 100,000 by the end of 2017, it is still a globally insignificant sum.
It is time for Americans to engage in soul searching. Many of us can reach not that far back to touch the soil that our ancestors came from. I regularly encounter those fleeing persecution. They are not the inherently evil lawbreakers that politicians would have us believe; rather, they are desperate people, longing to survive.
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Those whose lives are now in upheaval are no different than us. They had homes, jobs; their children went to school.
Pope Francis appealed to every European parish to take in one refugee family. What better way to embrace those who may not understand or appreciate our way of life? Americans need to tell our leaders to step forward. Hopefully, if we found ourselves needing to walk in the shoes of those we read about regularly, someone would welcome us.
former INS prosecutor
and special assistant
U.S. attorney, Miami