Where DO You Want Refugees To Go?
“Go to hell” is an inadequate response as they are already there.
Pretend they don’t exist?
For years now we have heard or seen stories about migration, legal and illegal, forbidden, restricted, and in some exceptional cases, allowed. We have seen images of the dead washed up on the shores of the Rio Grande, or floating in the Mediterranean sea.
We have heard of disease and despair, the constant companions of refugees, surging through camps, or crowded border towns. We’ve seen people outraged, because some people are offended by the ordeal of children in cages, or torn from their parents. Others are not concerned.
In Europe we have clamoring for Brexit. EU member states have drastically reduced trans-border crossings in 2020 due to the pandemic. The populist German AfD party calls for a zero immigration” policy, or other tough measures. In the Western hemisphere, we have fear-mongering, and mass deportations. For the incoming Biden administration, the only certainty is that there will be conflicts and struggles about walls, policy, rules, and restrictions.
Amassing people at borders is an international threat to all public health. So far as I know, no zoonotic virus, or pathogen, respects borders.
One question always forms in my mind. If you are dead set upon disallowing migration, where do you want migrants to go? This is a legitimate question. I honestly have never been given a viable answer to this obvious question.
They will come
There is no way to hold back the human tide of misery coming to your borders. Anyone desperate enough to leave everything they know because their own world is shattered, will try to find a new home. Even a mother bird burned out of her nest due to climate fires will leave. If people most definitely will travel — they will come — where can they go?
Given all the coming plagues, climate crises, famines, and fractious “power structure” violence that always comes with upheaval and change, there are going to be millions more people coming. Every day. Even if we reverse climate trends tomorrow, the upheaval is in motion. (Also, all signs point to the dawning realization that we are in for an increasingly rocky ride even as we do our best to mend our relationship with nature.)
Where will they go?
My husband has told me the answer is actually quite obvious. They want them to die. He says.
I can believe this of some people, I guess. However, I cannot believe it of most people. As Anne Frank has said: “I still believe, in spite of everything, that most people are truly good at heart.”
We all know what became of Anne Frank. The “good people” murdered her. However, the reason we know about Anne Frank is because MOST people are truly horrified at her story. I think there are probably millions of teen age girls in the world like Anne. They would like to start over, but can’t. Some will attempt to try. Many others will stay, and see what happens, even as the plight of they and their families remains invisible.
“Where will they go?” is a question I wish our politicians and leaders, organizers, and voters would demand to see confronted. If we stop them from entering our back yard, where will they go? It’s easy to fight over policy, numbers allowed in, the cultural shifts that change, whether or whether not migrants are “ruining ways of life,” or taking jobs, or bringing crime, drugs, and rapists.
Fun fact: they’re not, at least in the vast majority of cases. For the many millions of Anne Frank like teens out there, the idea that they are rapists is beyond ridicules.
What we want in a country
All of these topics come up and are fought over again and again. We need to turn our attention not to what immigrants will take away, but what they could add.
We should at least consider it.
Imagine a world where a young woman like Anne Frank is allowed into a nation that wants the brightest and best, that is surely one benefit, for certain. Or, better still, imagine a people that are simply humane enough that they will try to find and encourage being “best” in normal, and “unexceptional” people. These are the people that make a nation richer, stronger, innovative, collaborative, diverse, moral, and whole.
This is the kind of nation the United States of America, should forever be striving to be. Every nation should be trying to improve themselves as the first order of being great, and displaying real love, and real patriotism, for their country, in our striving.
Thomas Jefferson, (imperfect enslaver that he was) had visions of what America should be. He said, “I like the dream of the future better than the history of the past.”
I think, despite all his flaws, Jefferson is on to something here. He participated in a social order that allowed only rich, white, male, and powerful men to have a say. Yet, he envisioned a dream of the future that is better than that.
The words “Where will they go?” and “better future,” can be looked at together, contemplated, collaborated upon, and planned for, if we are to really fulfill our destiny as Anne and Tom saw it: To be “truly good at heart.”
Please, if you say no to asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees of any kind, just think about whether you do want them to exist at all, and if so, where do you want them to exist? Because I know we can do better at being better patriots.
I want these people to take up some space in your head. More importantly, I want them to haunt your heart.
Maybe we won’t be able to let everyone live everywhere they want, but surely, we can begin to make efforts to allow them to live as human beings.