Where Is the Welcome Wagon
for the Refugee Caravan?

statue of liberty

I don’t know how I could be any more American. I believe in the rule of law. I believe the American Constitution is the greatest ever written. My freedom is what I treasure most in life. I have been around the world and have observed cultural and political environments in nations such as Pakistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Israel, Turkey, South Africa, and almost every country in Europe, particularly Poland. When I am in those countries I am transfixed by how extraordinarily complicated it is to be alive in this world in the twenty-first century. When I get home I am ready to kiss the ground.

All of this I owe to my Polish grandparents who set off for America early in the twentieth century, who arrived penniless and at the mercy of relatives and fellow immigrants who preceded them. On arrival, they were processed, in some cases without much respect for the ordeal they had endured as they crossed the ocean, or for the welcoming words on the Statue of Liberty, that symbol of freedom and possibility for millions:

“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!”

Fast forward to 2018 and the immigrant “invasion,” as President Trump characterizes the caravan of asylum seekers and refugees making their way from Central America toward the U.S. Mexico border where they will be met by barbed wire and armed military. Their greeting when they arrive will be: “Go home. You are not welcome here.” The very idea that meeting these desperate people with military might is appalling. President Trump and those who support this vicious approach to immigration control are banking that fear is what makes America great. I believe, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

As sad as it is to watch this scenario unfold, it is sadder still to see that the response of the opposition and the major media has offered no alternative plan. Only a handful of reports, mostly on PBS, have attempted to uncover the root of this desperate flight. Where is the Democrats’ alternative? Who has organized a welcome wagon? Why aren’t we building a wall of human rights activists holding “Welcome Immigrants” signs all along the border? While there seems to be plenty of money to activate the military, where is the money to provide food and shelter, to establish processing stations and a pathway to Americanization, and to celebrate the courage and determination of these huddled masses yearning to breathe free?
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