image of the Statue of Liberty

Image courtesy of Hardy Services.

I stand with immigrants. I stand with refugees. I stand with migrants the world over.

I stand with immigrants because outside the Cradle of Humanity, we are all immigrants. Even there, how many people trace their roots to the dawn of humankind, and how many come from someplace else?

I stand with Immigrants in my own country, the United States, this land of liberty, where we now betray the promise of justice for all – for where is the justice in breaking up families, or sending people back to countries where they may be killed, or forcing people driven by economic or other desperation away from the country of their birth to risk deadly desert treks in Texas and Arizona? I stand with refugees and all immigrants in my country because we must be the land of the Statue of Liberty, of Emma Lazarus’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” the land of a torch of hope held high, not of high walls and hateful rhetoric. I stand because it is a fearful America that closes its doors, not a great America. A fearful America excludes. A great America includes. A fearful America hates. A great America loves.

I stand in wonder at the beauty and intonations of languages that I do not understand, words in languages of lands near and far that I hear around the corner, that my neighbors speak in my building. Hear the music. If you have trouble connecting with words, connect with a smile. Bask in your fortune that people from parts of the world to which your travels may never take you have come to you instead, these once foreign, once unfamiliar, gifts of sharing and learning and understanding. Welcome.

I stand with refugees and other migrants because I am ashamed of my country. The United States has historically been the greatest contributor to climate change, which is now disrupting rainfall pattern and leading to economic dislocation that drives people to leave countries in West Africa. People are forced to leave their homes in part because of us. Yet we offer refuge to so few.

I stand because I am proud that people want to come to my home, a land of many cultures and languages and peoples. The fabric of America is the fabric of the world. Unweave that fabric, unweave America. A nation homeless.

I stand with the asylum seekers in the United States who flee gang violence in Central America. I stand will all immigrants who are here now and want America to be home, who call America home, who know America is their home.

I stand with refugees because my grandparents survived the Holocaust. They were refugees welcomed by Sweden, then the United States. My family is a family of immigrants to America. My father came in January 1952 by way of the torch held high.

I stand with asylum-seeking immigrants in Israel, fleeing the totalitarian regime of Eritrea and the recently genocidal regime of Sudan, yet finding themselves now in a land that treats them as criminals. Is this the country of tikkun olam, repair the world, of a people who were slaughtered when the world denied them refuge? A strong Israel welcomes. A strong Israel treats African and Palestinian and Jew alike, with dignity.

I stand with the Rohingya of Burma and the people of Syrian, who more than 70 years after “never again” flee genocide and crimes against humanity. On our watch.

I stand with the refugees fleeing mass atrocities in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the refugees who fear the Taliban in Afghanistan, the refugees who are turned away from Australia, the Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, and beyond, refugees generation after generation.

I stand with internal migrants too, including those Chinese laborers and their families whom the Beijing government has deemed “low-end people.”

I stand for the human rights of all immigrants, of all migrants, for their rights to health care, education, employment, their right to be integrated into civil and political life, because they are people. When they adopt a new home, their new home should adopt them. “Them” is “us.” “They” are “we.”

All rise.