we all once were refugees

Close the borders.

Build a wall.

Halt resettlement.

As a first generation American on my mom’s side of the family, the anti-immigration sentiment sweeping this country disturbs me. What claim do any of us have on the land of freedom and opportunity except family members of past generations managed to get (or push their way) through the queue?

I understand fear of the unknown. But in the present moment, fear is fueling hatred, which ultimately begets violence. As a nation, we continually exacerbate this cycle with our knee-jerk, isolationist reactions.

I get it. The threat of terrorism is ever present, scary and real. You don’t have to school me on the dangers. I was working in the U.S. Senate on September 11th. If not for the heroes of United Flight 93, the baby I gave birth to four days after the attack, his father and I would probably have our names etched into memorial stone in the vicinity of where the Capitol currently stands.

Bad people are going to cross our borders. But is everyone seeking refuge a terrorist? Let’s remember many Syrian refugees are fleeing the same terror we have waged this unwinnable war against. In my view, their plight is not so very different from my grandfather fleeing both Nazi detainment and Soviet incarceration. He spoke no English and even wore a mustache reminiscent of a certain dictator, but no one denied him entry in his time of need.

I acknowledge the potential for those who mean us harm to take advantage of an unstable situation to immigrate here. Or they could already be within our borders, perhaps legally.

Is the threat posed by a few compelling enough to deny refuge to the many?

And what if we close the borders, build walls, halt resettlement efforts? Are we any safer? Let’s think about that for a hot minute. America has cultivated a culture where a gunman armed to the teeth can slaughter a school full of children or a theater of moviegoers without changes to the laws permitting the carrying of a calibre of weapons that far exceeds the intent of a hallowed amendment. We are willing to take the risk of adhering to the second amendment because the majority of gun owners are responsible. But God forbid we open our arms to desperate people escaping tyrannical governments because of the radical actions of a few.

Fear fuels hatred begets violence. America, you can do better.