I believe that what "Makes America Great" is actually the beautiful and enriching diversity of people, cultures, backgrounds, and stories. There is certainly a lot more we can do to be welcoming and compassionate to immigrants who have made the difficult decision to start over in a new country.
I was fortunate to grow up and go to school in a town where not everyone looked like me. My friends from the Philippines, Korea, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, and India shared their cultures, music, and food with everyone else. We learned from each other, and more importantly had fun getting to know each other.
After college I became a Global Mission Fellow, a young adult mission program with the United Methodist Church. This international program brought me to Colombia for two years to work with a grassroots human rights organization in Bogotá. I was a migrant who deeply felt the impact of being welcomed into a community with love and acceptance. The community I served in Colombia welcomed me as a friend, invited me to their family celebrations, and showed me endless grace and compassion as I learned how to adjust to a life in a different country. I was privileged to have this experience.
Sadly, I know that many of my Colombian brothers and sisters who arrive in the United States are not always welcomed into the country in this same way. Degrading stereotypes, racism, chants for border walls, insulting comments from political leaders, injustice, and threats of deportation are not how we should be welcoming our immigrant neighbors.
That is why I am proud to support and be part of the justice and hospitality ministry of New York Justice for our Neighbors. NYJFON's mission to "welcome immigrants into our communities with compassion, dignity, and love by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, engaging in advocacy for immigrants’ rights, and offering education to communities of faith and the public," is more important now than ever.
Join me in supporting NYJFON and standing in solidarity with the immigrants that make this country beautiful.