We Cannot Remain Silent as the Trump Administration Shuts the Door on Refugees

“But darling, all of America is waiting for you!”

These words from a stranger comforted my grandmother, Chawa Guterman, when her boat first reached the United States in 1950. A 17-year-old Jew in Poland when World War II began, she had lost everything but her life at the hands of the Nazis. They sent her to a work camp away from the rest of her family, where she was worked to the bone, barely fed.

After liberation, she was alone — her parents and her six siblings had all perished in the Holocaust. She lived in a displaced persons camp in Landsberg, Germany, where she met and married my grandfather. Together they immigrated to the United States with the support of a U.S. based resettlement organization. When their boat first reached the U.S. shore, my grandmother took in the scene around her. People filed off the boat, charging into the extended arms of loved ones, waving hellos, and exchanging hugs and kisses.

Eva Guterman

She started to cry.

A woman nearby approached her. “Why are you crying?” she asked.

“All these people have someone waiting for them. No one is waiting for me,” she said in Yiddish.

That’s when the woman replied, with the line that has been passed down from my grandmother to my father and from my father to me: “But darling, all of America is waiting for you!”

Today that sentiment is all the more striking, particularly when the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to undermine America’s commitment to refugees.

After ordering a Muslim ban not once, but three times, the Trump administration added insult to injury, cutting down the number of refugees allowed in this fiscal year to 45,000. That’s less than half of the previous year’s limit. Last week, the administration dealt another blow to refugees, releasing new restrictions on citizens of 11 countries that will severely burden the resettlement process by causing egregious delays and denials.

This is not the first time the United States has tried to prevent refugees in need from crossing its borders out of misplaced fear or hate. In 1939, the United States refused to allow the 937 passengers, almost all Jewish refugees, aboard the St. Louis to disembark in the United States. Two-hundred-and-fifty-four passengers were subsequently murdered in the Holocaust.

Refugees have been through ordeals impossible for most of us to imagine. My grandmother was a teenager when she had to face the horrors of the Holocaust. Right now, the United Nations estimates that there are 22.5 million refugees under its mandate worldwide, more than half of whom are under 18. Of the people in need of resettlement, less than one percent are even resettled, and the United States takes only a portion of these as one of more than 30 countries to accept refugees.

I am lucky that my grandmother survived the Holocaust. I am lucky that the United States did not continue that policy and decided to receive displaced Jews after the war. I am lucky that an organization similar to HIAS — the oldest resettlement agency in the world whom we represent in our challenge to the Muslim ban — was able to relocate my grandparents safely to the U.S. I am lucky that my grandmother was able to build a life in this country, raise a family, and see her grandchildren grow into the people we are today.

But her experiences also serve as a reminder to do all we can to help others who may not be so lucky. As HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield wrote when we sued over the Muslim ban, “We cannot remain silent as Muslim refugees are turned away just for being Muslim, just as we could not stand idly by when the U.S. turned away Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during the 1930s and 40s.”

The ACLU will continue to fight any attempt to turn away refugees on baseless claims of national security and xenophobic rhetoric.

Refugees are welcome here.

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Dr. Joseph Goebbels

I don't understand why Trump is so down on refugees, after all, he might be one himself some day.

Anonymous

I lost interest in the article when they said “...17 year old polish jew...”. It’s all blah blah blah after that. Boo hoo, jews were murdered. Yea yea, insensitive but it’s true. We are all refugees until you give up your idiotic religions and let the aliens help us.

But noooo, your precious Jesus, Muhammad, Mose, Buddha, Krishna, Aru Mazda, King George, and all the other human “gods” or supernaturals have led you humans to believe we do not exist.

Anonymous

Jesusphile
I know right. Muslims are as bad as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist, Sikhs, Shintos, Yazzidis, Zoastrist, and all other organized religions. They put their people into slavery of one kind or another and rarely if ever allow the true self of the individual to shine through.

God is truly disappointed by this creation of man. Religion was created by humanity to attempt to understand our “connection” to the universe and creation. But we bastardize the teachings of truly wise and peaceful humans.

Instead we chose religion and war. You can keep your religions, you cane keep your Jesus, Buhdda, Muhammad, Moses, Krishna, and Aru Mazda (god bless their souls). You all bastardized their names and they are waiting for you in “special hevean”.

Anonymous

It's a matter of realistic priorities, like one third of our population living near the poverty line. How can one cheer-on the refugees when you don't have a place to live? Who do you think we are?, a first world country? This a third world country for a third of us and it's a crime to those who are homeless to bring in refugees. You want to help those trying to escape war? Go to the south side of Chicago and help our own citizens.

Anonymous

What is poverty?

Is it a lack of services like medical and dental? A lack of food supplies? A lack of security? A lack of education? There are multiple levels to this ladder. I suppose if those on the south side of Chicago wanted help they would have it, no? There are more Chicago police stationed in the south side than any other district.

In addition, most of the cops on the south side are black or Latino from the community. Why don’t you help them identify the “criminals” and the neighborhood will get better.

Remember when your TV and PlayStation got stolen by that crackhead? Hey, what if there was no crack in your hood, then there’d be no crackhead to steal your shit. Your choice, live in the ghetto or make the hood yours.

Elisabeth Ellenbogen

It took the greater part of my childhood before I received an entry visa to the USA. This country paid for fifteen months of my public education. I have been a tax payer for six decades!
We are a diverse Nation. Open our borders to "ye wretched refuse of those teeming shores". In human diversity is our strength!

Anonymous

Sorry toots, homogenization is streanght. Let’s go around the world and look at what percent of the worlds richest and most powerful nations are “racially diverse”.

1. The US- we try to be diverse. The only truth is we are 60% white and 40%other. 100% of the rich rule the land.

2. The U.K.- 98% various European white, 2% other. 100% rich rule.

3. China- 98% Han or other indigenous “Chinese”, 2% other. 90% authoritarian rule.

4. India- 99% Indigenous Sanskrit/Hindu. Pakistan is the same except they’re 99% Muslim.

5. France- 95% white French, 5% other. They are trying to get rid of the 5%.

6. Russia- 92% White Russian Slavic, 8% other.

7. Get the story. There are NOT many countries like the US that actually support the concept of racial diversity. We about the only of three that tolerate gays.

The world is made up of racist of race and religion. Keep those borders closed and the hate out!

Foreigners bring their inbred hate with them. Fuck y’all. Go home and stay out.

Anonymous

People that sneak into our country are criminals and we owe them nothing. Reading your blogs and titles to stuff, tells me you are really a another leftist, socialist political action group. Not interested in America or free Americans. Just pushing your political agenda and causing more civil unrest.
I wouldn't give you fascists a nickel.
You don't give a dam about people like me.
Hard working tax paying law abiding blue blood Americans.
Blood sucking illegals need to go!

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