A refugee’s perspective on today…

I have been thinking a lot today, remembering my experience of coming to this country with my mom. I was seven. In case you did not know, we came as refugees: our status was “displaced persons/stateless”. For about 10 years of my life I did not have any passport: a citizen of no country. Thank you Jeanne Segal Rees for throwing me the C5 party when I got my citizenship. I still remember how we had apple pie!

We were living in Italy “under the radar” for many months, while we waited for someone to let us in. Uncertainty was everywhere, both in our daily lives, and thinking about what country would finally be our home. My mom tried to make it seem like an adventure: but even at seven, I understood the gravity and uncertainly of our situation.

What I remember most during our immigration and for many years after was how I felt so attached to my mom. She was the only family I had. (At the time we thought my other family members would be lost to us forever.) When she was late from a store, I would worry. When she did not pickup her phone at work, I would call again every 5 minutes until she was there. I used to have nightmares about who would take care of me in case something happened to her. I even had a plan, I would write a letter to then President Reagan asking if I could come and live with him. I was little girl, I did not eat a lot.

So I am disgusted by our policy at the border. Separating kids from family members is a cruel torture. Full stop! No excuses!

I am disgusted by our politicians: both democrats and republican. They are using this as a political football, but these are people, families, children. A comprehensive solution needs to come now.

I am disgusted by lack of UN over-site. This is a refugee situation and has been going on for years. Why is the UN commission on refugees not involved? Is it because the countries these people are fleeing, do not want the spotlight on why their citizens are running away?

Why private organizations, and there are many privately-funded immigrant organization, not stepping in to help? These organization are working in Europe, Africa and other countries. Why not at our border? Where is the red-cross?

We as US citizens need to remember our history. Emma Lazarus wrote a poem that is hanging at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. “The greatest generation” sacrificed themselves for people in these exact circumstances almost 70 years ago. We as a country apologized for the “interment camps”.

Now we need to look forward and decide what our legacy will be. What our morality, ethics, just gut-feel justice demands.

If you dismiss my words as liberal, progressive, or bleeding heart: you are missing the point. This is beyond politics.

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