As an organization that believes that Maryland is stronger when our communities uphold the dignity and value of each individual, the Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition commends The Sun for its recent three-part "Unsettled Journeys" series of in-depth articles, focused on three refugee and immigrant teens in Baltimore, written so eloquently and compassionately by Liz Bowie and illustrated by Amy Davis' poignant photos. The series clearly took time and effort to capture the complex context these young people live in, and we commend The Sun for its commitment to telling the stories so well.
Too often — especially during election campaigns — discussion of refugees and immigrants is depersonalized, and they are dismissed or demonized in the aggregate. But your series has put real, specific faces on recent refugees and immigrants and has provided a heart-wrenching yet inspiring glimpse of their challenges, their courage, their goals and dreams. We hope that these profiles — and reminders of our own immigrant roots — will motivate each of us to find ways to welcome these and other newcomers, to provide encouragement and support to the teachers and organizations that attempt to assist them, and to consider carefully the human impact of refugee and immigrant policies.
Many leaders in our coalition, including World Relief, the Esperanza Center, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Asylee Women's Enterprise, and ERICA, also work with recently arrived refugees and can always use volunteers and support. Our hearts have been touched — may our actions follow.
Pat Hatch and Liz Keyes
The writers are past-president and president of the Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition.