Something very powerful happened last night. My wife Gloria and I hosted a dinner for leaders of the refugee community, including a concert violinist from Syria, leading Members of Congress and leaders of national advocacy organizations, including Refugee Council USA, MoveOn.org, and Church World Service among others.
More than 6,000 advocates who appealed to Congress to stand with refugees were there too. Their names became part of a “Refugees Welcome” banner that we proudly displayed. It meant a lot.
It was a tight squeeze at the two dinner tables we set up in the back of the house. But we were all deeply moved when we heard first-hand what their journeys were like.
How Tika’s father cried when he first stepped into the family’s first permanent home in decades. That Lourena, who came to the United States when she was four, wonders about the life Aylan Kurdi could have had in America, had he not drown as his family escaped Syria. How deeply grateful Mariela is for being in the U.S., even as she fears for the life of her family, still living in Aleppo Syria.
As Senator Durbin said, stories make a difference – they connect us in deep and meaningful ways. They united all of us sitting around the table last night.
We know there is still much work to be done. Hardline voices in Congress are threatening to attach anti-refugee language to a must-pass spending bill. And we know there will be other attempts to close our doors to those who need us most.
But our resolve is greater than ever. The network of groups who are acting against this wave of hatred is growing. Members of Congress are becoming bolder in their defense of refugees. Voices of compassion and reason like yours are getting louder.
With all of us working together, not only will we stop this immediate threat against refugees, we will fulfill the pledge written on the Statue of Liberty to all who seek refuge, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Many, many, thanks!
Hon. Thomas Andrews, Director of Win Without War.