At age 18 months, I was a refugee. My parents were missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and my mother had to flee with three children when the Katanga province tried to secede after independence. I am so grateful that Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) welcomed us.
I question our government’s current attitude toward refugees, immigrants in general, family migration (sometimes misleadingly called “chain migration”), and immigrants with temporary status. I especially question President Donald Trump’s remarks about Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries (“On immigration, Trump has come up with an idea even worse than the wall,” Jan. 29). I was born in Africa, and the attitudes of white Americans toward everyone from Africa were made clear to me by some white children at Somerset Elementary School, just outside of Washington, D.C. in 1969. They taunted me for having been born on the “dark continent.”
Nonetheless, I am grateful for getting to be American, and I believe that refugees and immigrants, including undocumented workers, are so grateful for getting to be American, or at least to live here, that they become assets to our country as well.
The reason that refugees and immigrants from nations that are war-torn or led by corrupt governments are often so beneficial to us is that these are largely the people who have chosen to leave behind violence, oppression, corruption, bribery, poverty, lack of education, injustice, inequality, and lack of support for families, in order to come to a country promising these very things. In other words, the very people leaving the problems in these other countries generally embrace all the democratic principles and practices that make for a stable, educated, hard-working, just and free nation. The immigrants who come through the family migration program tend to value families, children, and the importance of building strong communities.
Welcoming immigrants restores our humanity. Welcoming immigrants and refugees teaches us that what every nation needs most is to build communities filled with healthy, happy people who are highly motivated and empowered to live in such a way as to make their dreams and the dreams of future generations come true.
Rev. Carol E. Richardson, Rockville
The writer is minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
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