New Sanctuary for Immigrants

Xenophobia is expensive.

There was a piece in our church bulletin recently about a dinner/fundraiser for a group called the New Sanctuary for Immigrants. I actually missed the notice, but my-eagle-eyed spouse caught it, and we went Saturday night to this church I passed literally thousands of times but had never entered.

The group assists immigrants with groceries, school registration, translation services health care, etc. It also retains the services of a local immigration lawyers when necessary.

The event ran from 6-8:30 p.m. When we got there at 6:15, the food was laid out. It was plentiful and delicious. There was a series of singers to entertain. I was only half listening, but one was Pride (in the Name of Love), the U2 song.

WE were sitting on a bench before some folks got up from a table, at which point we got to sit across from a man from Turkey, his wife from this area and their daughter. The woman told the frighteningly, irritatingly familiar story of traveling difficulties. One thing she noted was that she preferred traveling with him because they felt he was even more vulnerable traveling alone. I TOTALLY get that from some of my own experiences in racialized America.

I was talking Michael Rivest, the photographer of the above picture. He talked about how he felt “so… American being there.” I totally agree. Was it the melting-pot nature of the participants? I’m not sure, but it felt that our action being there was simple, yet important.

Coincidentally, I noticed that there was a story on NBC Nightly News on Sunday about the decrease in the number of undocumented people from Mexico, and an INCREASE from Asia, making the WALL useless.

I think about this issue, not just on a humanitarian level, but as a wide-eyed economic calculation. Obviously, the idea of sanctuary cities has created a disconnect, as this story points out. You WANT undocumented people to speak out about real crime, not sit silently.

I’ve mentioned previously the brain drain this country is developing, plus losses to some of the most prestigious colleges, when foreign students are afraid to come.

People don’t want to come to this America, costing the US billions. And many of these are western Europeans, less likely to be hassled. Xenophobia is expensive.

No wonder Canada is planting a privacy hedge along the entire US border. OK, not really.

But xenophobia IS leading to sped-up weddings — and prenups
Then Michael posted this on his Facebook, and he let me stealshare.

Last night’s class on Islam. I got talking to one of my students, a Muslim from Yemen, in the U.S. for two years. He’s a delight in my comparative religion course. I asked him if he was staying with family:
J: No, I have no family here.
ME: Have you been back to visit?
J: No, I had planned to go after this semester, when I will have the money, but I can’t now.

The reaction of the rest of the students was worth more than any three-hour lecture. He’s the first Muslim they’ve ever known, spoken with, laughed with. Now HE is normative for them, rather than a Bill Maher joke.
Without any prompting from me, they asked him to chant the Qu’ran’s opening surah. I took a seat. They were moved. So was he. Mission accomplished.

“Endangered Species? The Future of Journalism and the 1st Amendment”

Where does responsibility lie for the provision of authentic and credible news?

A joint program of the League of Women Voters and the Women’s Press Club of New York State

When: Thursday, April 20, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, (at the Four Corners), Delmar, NY

* Rex Smith, editor of the Times Union and host of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio’s “The Media Project”
* Rosemary Armao, director of the University at Albany journalism program and a panelist on WAMC’s “The Roundtable”
* Robert Heverly, an associate professor at Albany Law School.
*Angela Ledford, professor of political science at The College of Saint Rose and professor in residence at the state Assembly.

Why? The forum will consider the challenges to the First Amendment and the practice of journalism in the current political environment. Possible answers to the following questions will be discussed:
*How does social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, affect the news that voters need to receive in a functioning democracy?
*How do we distinguish “fake news” from the real news?
*Where does responsibility lie for the provision of authentic and credible news?

How to Participate: The public is encouraged to attend this compelling program. There is no charge for admission, but donations are encouraged. After costs, all donations will go toward programs sponsored by the two organizations including Women’s Press Club scholarships for young journalists going into the field. Come and be part of an ongoing public discussion of this important issue.

About the Program Sponsors:

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

The Women’s Press Club of New York State, Inc. is a nonprofit organization formed in 1966 by a small group of women journalists committed to supporting women in journalism and communications.

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