The Next Three Weeks

In early October the fiscal year ends for refugee resettlement for the year in the US and the new year, new budgets and most importantly new numbers of people we will potentially accept will be set.

The US has had a refugee resettlement program since WWII and it’s operated much as it is now since the Refugee Act of 1980.

The program has been under assault in criticism since the campaign and in reality since the current administration has taken office despite none of the complaints being true. The are heavily vetted. They contribute to the US economy. None have ever taken a US life in a terror attack and they, in fact, become good new Americans. I have included facts about refugee resettlement in the graphic below but note that the number of refugees resettled worldwide dropped by over 50% in 2017 when only 1% of the world’s refugees were resettled in the first place. In 2016 the US welcomed 84,995 refugees. The US saw a significant drop to 53,716 as the travel ban was fought out in court and this year because of it’s passing we will resettle just under 20,000 refugees during a time of the highest numbers of displaced people in modern history. Weekly I get emails from our resettlement agencies that no refugees are coming despite hundreds of people in my city being trained, ready and willing to help with their welcome and resettlement. Many have had to close their doors and lay off staff. The infrastructure for the future of welcoming refugees is being dismantled. It is not about this year alone but future years and how we will be able to serve those displaced by war and violence, genocide, statelessness, persecution for their faith, political beliefs, or sexual orientation or gender.

I think of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims, the Yazidis and Christians that were murdered for their faith and taken as sex slaves by ISIS, Syrians being bombed by their own government, Iranians being thrown in jail for converting to Christianity,  the constant warfare in Congo that has displaced many.

America, we can do better. What part will you play in helping influence our nation and our politicians to be a nation that is welcoming to refugees? Pray, speak up, remind people of what is in the Bible about refugees, call your representatives, vote.

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America at its Best

Beauty. I was at the dentist today with a Muslim friend from Pakistan/Afghanistan. Her translator, an Indian Sikh man with a turban and her and myself were speaking in broken bits of three languages. Urdu between them, her Pashto, and my English to each of them. An elderly white lady came through the door with a walker and the Sikh man jumped up to help her. She didn’t look up at him and settled in behind us. A few minutes later as we were chatting about all kinds of random subjects the lady in the walker behind me spoke up and said.. “it is so beautiful hearing you guys speak to one another.” I asked her name and introduced her to my old friend and new acquaintance. She said she was completely blind and could not see us but complimented my Afghani friend on her name. She was so kind and I loved her listening in. I wasn’t expecting it. Joy filled my heart. As we departed ways later we shook hands and said our “God bless you” to one another and I thought .. this is America at its best.

 

 

My Thoughts the Travel Ban: Is it Good?

The Supreme Court ruled the travel ban was within the legal authority of the President. It is legal. I am glad for our check and balance system and that the courts saw this case.

“It is legal,” they declared, and “allowable according to his powers to ban countries from entry,” but does that make his order good?

That is what I want us to think about today. Just because it CAN happen, SHOULD it have happened? Is the travel ban good?

The president said it was “to make America safe.” It was to protect America from people who wanted to harm our country. He said it was because of 911. The original order said: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”

The US was never attacked by any of the countries on the ban list. None of them have terrorized Americans on US soil. Most haven’t terrorized Americans at all. None of the banned countries contributed to 911. All of the countries involved in 911 were not banned and can still travel freely to the US on varying kinds of visas. If the travel ban has been connected to 911 and is based on a lie and misleading information, can it be good? If it keeps families apart needlessly, is it good? If it keeps out people fleeing war and persecution, is it good?

In 2017 the Catholic Herald and Christianity today said that persecution of Christians was at an all-time high. We followed that by banning countries where Christians are most persecuted. The “Muslim ban” has kept out persecuted Christians. The US received 65% less persecuted Christians this last year because most persecuted Christians come from the countries we have banned entirely. If the ban continues, that is no Iranian Christians coming despite conversion being life-threatening in Iran.

An Iranian Christian friend of mine came as a refugee before the ban and cannot bring her son over despite the time in prison he just did for his Christian faith. Their country is on the ban list. What about Muslims being banned? Is targeting people for their faith American? Racial profiles are never good and lead to injustice. We can look at our own history and grieve over that. I met a girl last week studying here from Iran and she missed her sisters’ wedding two months ago because leaving the country and coming back was too risky. She would likely get blocked out of the US in the middle of her Ph.D. despite having a student visa, so she had to miss her sister’s wedding. A friend of mine who studied in England is Muslim. He and his family started receiving death threats from ISIS because his wife worked at an international school that they didn’t like their ideology, it’s connection to the west or Christians working there too. They were traitors according to total strangers. He messaged me asking for how to do the refugee process and I had to tell him- the US won’t take you. For months I was given the tale of the threats and vandalism and harm that came on his family with little to advise but keep applying for jobs in Canada, or go live in a refugee camp in poverty and leave his job, car, house, and extended family, “my country has no way of letting you come here legally because your whole country is banned.” He’s a professional in the science field.

The rhetoric of fear that led to the statements: “We don’t know who these people are” is powerful. It was powerful to conflate terrorist attacks in Europe with the US even though the circumstances and demographics were not comparable. It was powerful to tell Americans who didn’t understand that refugee resettlement in the US was the safest, most thoroughly vetted travel system for any person to come to the US already, that it was “dangerous and not secure and unvetted.” Most Americans had no idea how long we had been resettling refugees. They were uninformed about who came, the contribution to our economics and growth in our business sector, that they are saving midwest cities, or that no refugee had ever killed an American. But our ignorance is convenient to manipulate.

As a Christian, I can’t be quiet because it is about truth. It’s about truth versus propaganda. It’s about the persecuted Christian we have just blocked out permanently. It is about my Muslim friend who got here just before the travel ban, her family getting caught up in it a month later, having their tickets canceled and being blocked because of the executive order sweeping over entire countries. They had been vetted and had a plane ticket to arrive here. As my friend’s family waited for nearly a year for the travel ban to be lifted, they were killed a few months ago.

I want us to be a country of laws, of course, but our laws need to be good. The beauty of democracy is a president and Congress are accountable to constituents who can have their say and challenge unjust laws, unjust orders, and unjust policies and say “We want a different kind of America. One that is kind and generous and honest and good towards people being persecuted.” Our laws need to be based in truth and not in political partisanship power plays. When there is a need to block certain nationalities for safety, that is fine, but when it is for political posturing and based on misleading half truths, it is not good and needs to go. We need to be a country that doesn’t forget we long to be “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!”

What kind of a country do we want to be? Do we want to be a good one or one based on fear and misguided, untruthful, self-protection?

On Ethics and Justice

We are living in strange times. There have been assertions lately from certain legal teams that the president has the power to pardon himself or herself.

No, no sir, the president cannot pardon himself. This was decided long ago by the Department of Justice.

“Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself.” – DOJ August 5, 1974

The logic should reason for itself that unless we were living in a corrupt country more akin to a dictatorship, self-pardoning would be a gross misuse of power.

We are all, after all, under the law and not above it.

 

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Reading Through the Rhetoric – Caravans and the Mexican border

Here is some current events homework for you.

1.) Google “asylum seekers” so you know what it means.

2.) Look up “US policy in Honduras and Central America” so you know our contributions negative or positive to people fleeing their country.

This is an interesting non partisan report from the Wilson Center exploring the history and US policy: Crime and Violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle 

3.) Ask yourself why a caravan of 1000 asylum seekers we knew were coming who told everyone they were seeking amnesty and walked across Mexico (which is no safe feat.) are being painted as “dangerous to the security of our country.” Scapegoats are good rhetoric tools when you have stirred your base into a fearful frenzy. However who has the legitimate fear of safety here? Should America or the asylum seekers from Honduras be more afraid is what we should be asking.

Why are they leaving Honduras? What does it cost them? What risk did they take to walk through cartel monitored lands? What does it cost them to stay in Honduras? Why are we talking about asylum seekers like they are criminals? How many asylum seekers commit violent crimes? Do you know the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee? What do refugees bring to the US? The New American Economy has some interesting reports. As we weed through the rhetoric, we should be asking these questions.

 

Read more here at the BBC.

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The Real Olympic Winners…

My bestie creates beautiful charts and data for the Olympics every time they role around because as she says, “a medal table isn’t nearly enough.”

 

If you are a nerd with numbers or just like the Olympics. Or are like me and struggle with math but like other people making math pretty, I give you, Hannah’s Olympics’ charts:

via Winter v. Summer – Dollar Dollar Bills Y’all

Our Double Standard

A muslim

 

They should follow the same logic.  Either we should talk about both gun control and immigration or we should not let immigrants be banned because of a wicked person.

Why is this our normal? The gun conversation rebuke has happened around every mass shooting I can remember since Columbine.

“Now is not the time to talk about gun control.”

Why?

No time is made to talk about it when there isn’t a shooting but we are heavily rebuked from approaching the subject when there is a shooting. When? When? Why is the subject off the table? When is it okay to talk about the fact that one of our major dangers in this country is from other Americans and shootings? When can we talk about the massive amount of power and influence of the NRA and that money, not the second amendment is probably a bigger driving force for that lobbying group?

 

The lack of compromise. The repeated demonizing of anyone who is refugee or Muslim or foreign as a scapegoat while the American problem is dismissed and justified.

 

It makes no sense. It is poor logic.

 

Terrorism happens in Europe by European citizens (not Syrian refugees) and more than half of the US governors two years ago wanted to keep Syrian refugees from entering their states. (All Republican. Why is partisan politics a part of this?) A lone attacker in NY happens and the POTUS wants to end the visa diversity lottery started by Bush. We have seen a fight to continue the refugee resettlement program all year, with months going by and almost no refugees being resettled and bans on countries that have never attacked us. We began the refugee calendar in October with the lowest number being assigned for resettlement this next year in the history of the program during the worlds worst refugee crisis since WWII. Meanwhile, since the Orlando shooting in June 2016 we have had 521 mass shootings in 477 days.

 

It is easier to make them evil and justify us.

 

We, however, are corporately responsible for this repeated pattern of partisan and illogical politics.

 

Since we do nothing about our mass shooting problem, we should not stop the visa diversity lottery. 

 

 

 

Let the data and truth speak:

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from Business Insider 

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