Have you ever met a refugee? Have you ever met or worked with one, maybe you hired a refugee at some point and had the opportunity to talk with them a bit? Out of all the refugees you know, how many of them have taken a job from you? How many have made a city go bankrupt? The threat immigrants and refugees pose is made up. It’s fiction.
Last question here: How many people know of a town, city, county or state that’s declared itself to be a sanctuary and know of any repercussions that the federal government has imposed?
We can duck behind our ocean partitions, ignore the rest of world and remain safe. But not standing up is shameful. I’ve needed people to stand up for me throughout my life (thanks mom and dad). Because of where I live, the repercussions of someone not standing up for me were tolerable to non-existent. The repercussions for refugees and immigrants are real, and tangible. What if Bob Ferguson — the attorney who reversed the immigration ban — hadn’t stood up? What if the judge remained seated?
To the people in power: You were elected to make the best decisions. If you’re not supporting and arguing for becoming a sanctuary city, shame on you. You are abdicating, and in that vacuum fear and rhetoric can grow.
Words Matter. Words make a difference. It wasn’t the word cooperation, or welcoming, or community that the federal government threatened. It was sanctuary. Even though there’s no working definition of what a sanctuary city is, the idea was so scary that they threatened us if we dared use it. The realities of refugees and immigrants are different than the rhetoric, and the idea of repercussions is based in fear, not facts.
We have an opportunity. We can make our decision based on intimidation, rhetoric and fear. We can hide from what we know is true and real. Or, we can stand with a word — stand with people — that we would all embrace under any other circumstances. We have an opportunity to declare this place for what it is: a place of abundance, an Eden, a sanctuary. If you’re not standing with them, if you’re taking for granted and exploiting the resources and advantages Whidbey, if you’re not advocating for them by supporting this place as a sanctuary, shame on you. Shame on us all.