The Truth About Refugees

In Op-Eds by Amelia James

Refugees. A word that is guaranteed to bring controversy. One only has to take a peek at social media to feel the heat from debate concerning Refugees. Each news outlet presents a different side to the argument. It is difficult to filter out the actual facts as the waters are muddied by opinions, speculation, misunderstanding and anger. Emotions are running high as we adjust to new seasons within our country.

Some Americans fear refugees bring terrorist idealism and are here to do harm. Others are out at airports or courthouses protesting for the refugee’s right to find safety here. There are some that don’t care either way. Many citizens are torn between wanting protection and yet feel compassion towards the misplaced. And yet, most Americans aren’t even aware of the refugees that live in their own cities and even neighborhoods.

So what is the truth about refugees?

The truth is… we fail to understand that there are several components to the refugee and migrant crisis. It is comprised of refugees, asylum seekers, documented, and undocumented immigrants all of which have different definitions as well as different procedures for gaining entry into another country. Each country has different rules, regulations, and funding for each category.

The truth is… some refugees have received a Special Immigration Visa (SIV) to come to America. These people served alongside the US military or inside US Embassies throughout war-torn countries. They worked as translators, drivers, assistants, administrators, and tech support—they’ve filled roles that have aided the US in numerous ways. Many of our soldiers can thank an SIV for saving their life.

The truth is… many refugees are scared. Their lives are in danger. For some, it is because they aided the US. They have left behind family, friends, culture, what is familiar, and what is comfortable. They travel to the other side of the world to a new life filled with the unknown. Survival is a priority.

The truth is… they have a lot to learn. From the moment they step off of the plane, they begin to acquire new information for a new life. Language, housing, and jobs are the most obvious, not to mention the little things that are important to living everyday life. Culture acquisition and integration come in waves and is ever changing as they move into new seasons of life.

The truth is… they are grateful. Many have seen unspeakable horrors. Many have lived through very traumatic experiences. Many still grieve for what and who they have lost. They are grateful for a safe place to heal and grow.

The truth is… they waited. It can take several years to gain a US visa depending on the circumstance. The vetting process alone can take two or more years to complete. President Trump has plans for a new vetting system that is even more detailed and will most likely take longer. Thus more waiting.

The truth is… they can be lonely. A lot of refugees come from a community-based culture. Families often live all together in the same house. Meals are shared with many people including friends, neighbors, and sometimes strangers. Coming to America can be isolating as we are an individualistic society. Some of them will never be invited into the home of an American—a struggle for people from hospitality-centered cultures.

The truth is… they are my friends. Two years ago, I was planning on my life going one way, but it took a turn that I didn’t anticipate. That turn led me into the lives of refugees. They have brought me joy, taught me more that I imagined they could, and gave me purpose.

The truth is… they need your love. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  That led to one of the most famous parables about a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead on a road. Religious and political leaders passed him by without helping. One man stopped and went above and beyond to care for him. So who exactly is our neighbor? I respond with, who isn’t?

Regardless of where you stand politically on this issue, there are registered, vetted and documented refugees currently living in the United States, in your cities, and in your neighborhoods. Before He left, Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. The nations have come to us. They are literally our neighbors.

The truth is… they are here. How will Christians respond?

Featured image credit kafeinkolik / Shutterstock.com

This article was written by a guest contributor and not by Biblica staff. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by Biblica, its employees, or its board of directors.

Amelia James

Amelia James has worked cross culturally in over 10 different countries for the past 20 years. Currently, she is the program coordinator for an organization which serves the refugee population of Colorado Springs, Colorado. They assist with cultural integration and assimilation, partnering with local resettlement agencies in Colorado.

Latest posts by Amelia James (see all)

Comments