One of my earliest memories is defending a little boy with blond curls in my Sunday school class when he was called a girl. He was a refugee from East Germany, and his family had been my family’s Sunday dinner guests.
As a pastor, I worked with agencies and volunteers to find housing and employment for a Vietnamese refugee couple, and a single man who stayed with us until our prejudiced landlord objected. Elsewhere, we cooperated with other churches to accommodate small families from Hungary and North Vietnam.
I also worked with churches settling Hmong refugees. Eventually we took in a daughter of a refugee family from my congregation’s Hmong membership as our own daughter.
As a high school teacher, my schools’ and my students came from refugee and immigrant families including Hmong, Mien, Laotian, Cambodian, Iranian, Punjabi, Indian, Afghani, Pakistani, Filipino, Central American, Arab, Ukrainian, Belorussian, indigenous Mexican and Ethiopian cultures.
Now our grandson, whose great-grandparents, Japanese-American citizens, were interned in camps during World War II, attends a playgroup at a children’s center that welcomes Syrian refugee families.
Contrary to sensational claims, vetting processes for refugees are extensive, if not redundant, and we have nothing to fear from our new neighbors.
Kim Leslie, Clovis