Immigrants and Refugees: A Call for Compassion

March 02, 2017

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied. . .

no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore

Excerpts from  “Home”  by Warsan Shire.

I understand the need for secure borders and citizen safety. But I’ve known too many people whose life stories find expression in Shire’s poem to be among those who insist that they go back to face the very dangers they fled.

I’ve lived too long in countries whose destitution and violence is linked to American foreign policy to imagine that we bear no global responsibility for the current refugee crisis.

I’ve spent too many years working to help bring sanity and compassion into our nation’s immigration system to accept extreme mandates as the best we can do as a nation. My heart breaks for those who have lived as contributing members of our communities and churches for years and want nothing more than legal status in this country, but who are now afraid to leave their homes for fear of deportation.

And I grieve the public misperception that immigrants put the rest of America at risk when crime rates among immigrants  are much lower than among the general population.

Concern for the immigrant is not merely a biblical mandate for members of the Diocese of Washington. It is a matter of pastoral care. Many who fear arrest and deportation are parents, children, leaders in our congregations, and hardworking members of our communities.

In this special immigration issue of our diocesan bulletin, we strive to tell you how our diocese is responding to the challenges immigrants now face, to give you a primer (para español, haz clic aquí) on current immigration policy and rights, and offer opportunities for you to learn more (para español, haz clic aquí), should you feel called to support our immigrant neighbors in ways large and small.

At the very least, may we all pray with compassion, and remember that no matter who we are and where we come from, we have all been strangers in need of welcome and will be again.

 

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