Insulting/Injuring Our Biggest Fans
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to meet two people who immigrated to the US years ago as refugees. One is from Kuwait and the other from Bosnia. The places they were born became unsafe at different points in their lives, threatening their safety or a family member's. One's father was accused of espionage by the government and threatened with execution while the other lived through a war, experiencing famine and having family and friends killed by the army. Their situations were heartbreaking and thankfully with a lot of determination, were able to qualify to come to the US to make new lives.
Fast forward decades later and you have two St. Louis residents who have demonstrated resilience, hard work and a feeling of gratitude to this country that took them in. Both had to learn English in their teenage years and help their parents who immediately had to get jobs to support their families. One is currently pursuing her PhD in finance while helping immigrant entrepreneurs grow their businesses and the other has a masters in architecture and is on track to make partner at his firm. Both speak with reverence about the city they call home and are adamant about this being the greatest country in the world.
And yet, parts of our national dialogue do these two model citizens an injustice. While they speak of wonderful community at the local level, one said, "I'm an immigrant and a Muslim. That's a double whammy." They both fled places that were unsafe, make great lives for themselves in our country and are now being made to feel unsafe and unwelcome again.
Many natural born US citizens have great reverence for this country as well but few have had the same amount of adversity these two faced in the places from which they came. Immigrants such as these two individuals are the kind of people we need in this country because they will never take it for granted. They have seen struggle beyond most of our imaginatinos and will work hard to take use the opportunities they are given here.
Rather than sending immigrants away, us natural born Americans would do well to get to know them and feed off their determination and gratitude.
Go Forth Boldly