refugeesI have not written an article in a few months for several reasons. I did take some time off to have my hip replaced – yah! I’m doing great and just walked 8 blocks today. But, more than any personal reasons, the U.S. Presidential election has left me speechless – not something that happens often for a storyteller. :-)

I didn’t want, in any way, to add to the divisiveness and general noise out there. But this week I’ve had to find my voice to speak out about this…

Over the years on our www.RacebridgesStudio.com site, we have carried the stories of those emigrating to the United States. It has been our honor to help document these stories of bravery and sacrifice. We realize that too often the next wave of immigrants seeking to come to the U.S. and contribute are the very ones who are vilified and blamed for a whole host of problems for which they are not responsible.

But the scapegoating of immigrants went to a whole new level with this week’s temporary ban on immigration from 7 predominantly Muslim countries – none of which have been tied to any domestic terrorism. Let me repeat: not one citizen of one of those countries has ever killed a U.S. citizen on American soil.

I can’t help but recall the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII when not one Japanese American had ever been found guilty of espionage and the 442nd infantry battalion of Japanese American soldiers were the most decorated unit in WWII. We seem to have a pattern of marking the wrong people as potential enemies.

Let’s review the facts: Today, it typically takes 18 months to get approved to come to the United States as a refugee. In fact, coming to the U.S. as a refugee is the hardest route possible to entering this country.

Refugee families go through months of interviews, security checks, biometric tests such as iris scans and DNA testing to prove that they are who they say they are. An applicant is likely to deal with 12 to 15 different parts of U.S. Government before they are approved.

Risk analysis research from the Libertarian think tank, Cato Institute, puts your chance of being killed by an attack involving immigrants at 1 in 3.6 million. They rate your chances of being killed by a refugee at 10 times higher or 1 in 3.64 billion.  Either way it’s an infinitesimal likelihood.

It’s important to remember that refugees are fleeing their land precisely because they are victims of terrorism. In this way, we share a common enemies and common goals.

Simply put, secure, generous immigration and refugee policies make the world safer and more stable. I think of what President John Kennedy said: “Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life. Immigration befits and benefits us.” And “Our immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.”

And if you’d rather a quote from a former Republican President:

“Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.” And “Our generation will ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hope-filled society this world has ever known.” George W. Bush

Isis and other terrorist groups have been clear in their strategic messaging: “America will turn its back on you! We are your only hope!” This ban offers these groups a giant propaganda gift, one we cannot afford to be handing out.

Susan O’Halloran is a diversity consultant who works with businesses, schools and other nonprofits to create more inclusive organizations. All throughout February Sue will be sharing videos from the www.RacebridgesStudio.com collection on immigration on this Facebook Page: www.Facebook.com/StoriesConnectUsAll. www.SusanOHalloran.com