I don’t get political on here very often, but if you’ve followed my blog a while, you know that an “issue” dear to my heart is immigration/refugee resettlement. I put issue in parentheses because to me, it is not an issue. It is my work. For the past 14 years I have worked with immigrant/refugee kids as either an ESL teacher or an ELD Coach. To my shock and disappointment, I have watched these kids and their families get ignored, discriminated against, and attacked by general society.
On Monday, February 22, Tennessee senators will vote on SJR0467, which is a resolution to end refugee resettlement in Tennessee. If you are a Tennesseean, please contact your senators and urge them to vote NO on SJR0467. Here is a link that lets you do that easily and quickly: http://www.congressweb.com/tirrc/6
A refugee by definition is someone who has had to flee his home and cannot return to it, often because of war. (This is different from immigrants, who choose to come here.) A refugee lives in transition, often traveling many miles on foot and then living in a camp full of makeshift tents, limited food and water, and limited medical supply. Refugees are simply people who need a home. They need asylum. They need a place that will welcome them, feed them, clothe them, and help them survive. This is an issue of humanitarian aid, but it is also an issue of love for our fellow man.
This resolution is saying that as a state we are going to reject people who have no home, no belongings, no food, no medical care – who have nothing. We are going to close our doors and say, “No, we won’t help you.” This is one of the most extreme pieces of anti-refugee legislation in our country. Do you want to be known as the state who turned refugees away? As the state who valued their own fear over the act of caring for people in need? I know that many of the people of Tennessee are kind and good-hearted. Tennesseans are some of the most hospitable people I know. We need to open our doors to needy, suffering, desperate refugees. And that doesn’t mean you can’t be against undocumented immigration. You can be anti-illegal immigration and pro-refugee at the same time!
It can be scary to welcome people who are different from us. And I understand the fear of terrorism. But refugees have to go through a long, multi-step vetting process before they enter the US. Here’s an infographic from the Center for American Progress that shows the screening process for Syrian refugees:
Please contact your TN senators TODAY or TOMORROW to vote NO to SJR0467 on Monday! Again, here is a link with a pre-made letter (which is editable – I added personal stories to mine!) to your Senators: http://www.congressweb.com/tirrc/6
For a simple explanation of why there are so many Syrian refugees, read this article.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Thank you for speaking out on behalf of refugees. I pray that TN will welcome refugees with open minds and hearts.