We can't become numb to refugees' suffering

Updated 6/11/2018 12:03 PM

We are in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes around the world. Our nation was once the global leader in welcoming refugees, but under Trump, the U.S. has pulled out of the UN Global Compact on Migration. We have pledged to take a maximum of 45,000 refugees this fiscal year, the most restrictive limit in 70 years (and in actuality we've taken less than half of that number so far).

The challenge for humanity now is to see each refugee as a human being and not to become numb to their suffering. These most vulnerable people, many of them women and children, have left all they've ever known because they had no choice but to escape war, civil conflict, or gross human rights violations in search of a safe place. We're one of the richest countries in the world, and it's our obligation to do our part. Instead, of the 5.6 million Syrian refugees, the U.S. accepted exactly 11 last year. The vetting process that refugees must complete to enter our country takes on average two years and is exceptionally thorough. Fear of terrorism is no excuse for turning our backs on the suffering.

In thinking of our country's response to this crisis, I remember a passage from the Bible: "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" It seems clear that in the effort to "Make America Great Again," we have forfeited our soul. What's called for now is courage, compassion, and wisdom. We can, and must, do better.

Janet McDonnell

Arlington Heights

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