Saturday, January 15, 2011

Person to Person Narratives

There has been significant talk in the media about immigration over the last year. The leading narrative in the news is that American's want to keep immigrants out. Undocumented persons from other countries are stealing jobs from hard working Americans is what I often read. The undercurrent is that these persons from other countries are out to alter the fabric of society.

Here is one viewpoint about the "dark side of illegal immigration."  It's taken from a press release from Rep. Steve King of the 5th district of Iowa
  • The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise would die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day.
  • Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals.
  • There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines, which plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of methamphetamines that day, by 80%.
  • Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases, to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals.
  • Eight American children would not suffer the horror as victims of sex crimes.
Of course, King's comments are written without any supporting facts. If one digs a bit deeper to understand how he came to these statements you'd see a blatant manipulation of statistics. Let's say for example that 1% of Bassett Hounds viciously lick people on their faces. If I lock up 100% of all Bassett Hounds I will prevent 100% of vicious licking attacks by happy hounds.  This is essentially King's reasoning.

My point today isn't about statistics or  my distaste for people saying ridiculous things. 

My point is that we have forgotten to put a human face onto the issues that are polarizing our society. Both my friends on the right and my friends on the left run further in their respective directions in order to prove a point. Lost is the story of real human tragedy. We are forgetting about the people.

This past week I sat with an individual who is seeking asylum in the United States. They endured brutal torture   for publicly stating that they hoped two opposing groups could sit down at a table and work toward a peaceful solution. This person had to flee their country. They left behind a home they loved along with their child and spouse. 

This is one story of the very real tragedy that some people endured prior to entering into the United States. It's the very real human face of immigration (legal or illegal). It is the story that is lost in our polarized public discussions that are more about protecting a view point than about protecting human beings.

I'd like to write more here. I'd like to put a human face on this particular tragedy. I'd like to tell you about the deep sorrow of this individual and how, at the depth of this sorrow, I found an unquenchable sense of hope.

I of course cannot. I'm bound to protect this individuals privacy and confidentiality. I hope you each find ways to make a person-to-person encounter when you think about immigration. In fact, I hope you all find ways to make a person-to-person encounter when you are thinking about any issue that is polarizing. Thinking about an issue in context--in relation to another--is transformational. You'll change--and everyone around you will change too.

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