January 30, 2017
I am horrified by President Trump’s Executive Orders suspending the refugee program and blocking residents of seven countries from traveling to the United States. In a matter of minutes, the President laid waste to Emma Lazarus’ poignant words, inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. So much for “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Americans must repeat those words today. We must resist the hate-filled and hate-fueled Executive Orders and renew our promise to people fleeing violence and oppression.
Lazarus’ words weighed on me yesterday while visiting a refugee family in the 7th Congressional District. I cannot share many identifying details for security reasons but wanted you to know how I spent my Sunday. The Jewish Family Service Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project in cooperation with local Muslim groups and with generous assistance from our academic and medical communities have helped settle this family. The sponsors have long been in touch with my office, keeping us updated on the family’s journey. They arrived last week, a family of 4 from Syria, parents with young children. Given the current circumstances, spending time with them took on a new urgency for me. I wanted to meet with them before flying to Washington today.
My wife, Barbara, and I assured the family that they are welcome here. We learned about the devastation they left behind and about their hopes for a future here in our great nation. Because so many of you reached out with heartfelt messages over the weekend, I was able to share your sentiments as well.
With all this talk about “extreme vetting” I thought you would be interested to know that the vetting for this particular family of 4 took TWO YEARS. They were not simply flown into Logan and hurried away without regard for their background or circumstances.
We heard from many of you over the weekend, with voicemail boxes in both my Washington D.C. and Cambridge offices filling up repeatedly. We also received hundreds of emails. Not surprisingly, no one called to express support for the President’s actions. Your messages are much appreciated. I am so honored to represent so many concerned and compassionate constituents.
I know many of you participated in yesterday’s protest in Boston. Thank you for your activism and commitment to our shared values. America has always been a welcoming home for refugees. I could not join you because of my meeting with the Syrian refugee family, but I was certainly with you in spirit.
Keep speaking out, sharing you concerns and calling out injustice. Sometimes it feels like all we can do is protest, but our voices matter – every one of them.
As Pope Francis recently reminded us, "It's hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. . . In putting ourselves at the service of the neediest, we will experience that we are already united; it is God's mercy that unites us."