For as long as human history has been recorded, we have known about refugees. The Abrahamic faiths are built on an idea of fleeing and finding homes in new countries. But just because something has been happening for millennia doesn’t mean we can’t actively be trying to love our neighbors and find better solutions to an unsafe world.
Lists, resources, and petitions abound for current refugee situations. If you want to do something that helps immediately, I suggest you find an organization you trust and respect to see how you and your family can best partner with their efforts.
But if you’re looking for a slower understanding about America’s history of immigration, I wanted to suggest one of the most impacting books I’ve read on the Christian response to modern immigration.
Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang was published in 2009 but remains pertinent, nearly a decade later. Soerens and Yang work for World Relief, an aid organization whose goal is to empower refugees and the countries they come from. The book is a combination of stories and statistics and the writing is engaging. If nothing else, Soerens and Yang helped me confront my own ignorance about the history of immigration and how America has actually treated refugees, especially in the last hundred years. (I wrote a more detailed essay about Welcoming the Stranger over at SheLoves last year.)
If you’d rather read a fiction book that makes you think, I just finished Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. Published last year, this timely novel follows two women: Soli, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and Kavya, an Indian-American struggling with infertility. Their paths cross when Soli is put into an immigration detention center and her son is put in Kavya’s foster care. There are a couple plot leaps but overall, this book humanizes the families who are impacted by immigration policy. I also appreciated that this was written and published well before the current practices. It’s a reminder that we have a very broken system in dealing with those who cross the border without documentation.
If you need a place to start looking for resources, I thought I’d list a few places to start. There are many organizations doing really good work, so I’d recommend finding one you feel comfortable giving to and trusting with your resources.
The Justice Conference, World Relief, and We Welcome Refugees created this fact sheet that gives a quick overview of the “zero tolerance” policies. Check out their websites for what they do and how you can get involved.
Again, I trust you are able to research and find an organization that best aligns with your own beliefs. But I’d encourage everyone to read more deeply than Twitter or the News. On this day, as we remember refugees from around the world, I hope we all take the time to dig a little deeper into these very complex issues.
What resources have helped you understand the refugee crisis over the years? How do you stay informed? Any favorite organizations you support?