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Voice of the people: Lisa Long

 

 

 

This is not the United States of America I am so proud of, and love. The America I love is the place where people seek refuge and asylum as they flee from countries that separate children from their families and place kids in cages, not the other way around. 

 

I'm not an immigration or legal expert of any kind, but I am a mom and I write to you as an American mother. I know many other American mothers, of many ages, many skin colors, various political affiliations and religious beliefs, from households struggling to make ends meet to mansions with an enviable wealth of riches and resources. Of these American mothers, I can not think of a single one who would ever, no matter the circumstances, believe our immigration laws would justify her own child being forcibly taken from her and locked away for the foreseeable future. The mothers I know would do absolutely anything to ensure the well-being of their children. Tested by time and difficult circumstances, I have in fact witnessed first-hand the great lengths they will, and have, gone to, seeking to guarantee the safety and health of their children. If Starkville, Mississippi were plagued by the horrors of war or within the iron grip of gang violence, and the lives of my husband, eight-year-old daughter and I were threatened daily, I would most definitely seek safety and a peaceful existence elsewhere. Would I cross a border illegally if it meant my family and I would have the chance to live, free of imminent threat of grievous bodily harm and/or death, with the hope of living freely, safely, and even prosperously in the future? Without hesitation, I would. 

 

I'm a mom - our instinct is to do whatever it takes to love, protect, and nurture our children, with the hope that their futures will be even better than ours - whatever the cost and whatever the risks. And, in fact, that is exactly what my great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother, and the ancestors of so many others living in our country, did in the 18th and 19th century, when they arrived here from countries like England and Ireland -- some legally and some illegally -- searching for a better life for themselves and their children.  

 

The America I know, and continue to have faith and hope in, uses our great minds, history, and expertise to work together and find solutions to enact compassionate immigration reform legislation. We can and must do better than this. We must fix our broken immigration system by supporting legislation which: 

 

  • includes a legal pathway to citizenship, 

     

  • works to maintain family unity throughout the immigration system, 

     

  • respects the rights of U.S. and immigrant workers, 

     

  • protects the most vulnerable among us, especially children, refugees and asylum seekers, and 

     

  • ensures the human rights of immigrant families are protected as immigration laws are enforced. 

     

    At the same time, we must address the root causes of migration in order for immigration reform to be truly effective, by seeking foreign policy solutions and trade agreements that promote stability and promote economic opportunity in migrants' home countries.  

     

    On the evening of July 1st, I received a great blessing by attending an Ecumenical Prayer Service organized by St. Joseph Catholic Church in Starkville. We read scriptures together which reminded us of biblical teachings to love "the least of these" and were touched by the following prayer: 

     

     

     

    "Prayers for Migrants, Refugees & Asylum Seekers" 

     

    God, no one is stranger to you 

     

    And no one is ever far from your loving care. 

     

    In your kindness watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, 

     

    those separated from their loved ones, 

     

    those who are lost 

     

    and those who have been exiled from their homes. 

     

     

     

    Bring them safely to the place where they long to be, 

     

    and help us always to show your kindness to strangers 

     

    and those in need. 

     

     

     

    We ask this through Christ our Lord, 

     

    who too was a refugee and migrant, 

     

    Who travelled to another land 

     

    Searching for a home. 

     

    Amen.

     

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