An Open Letter to My Representative
Change, I believe, starts with each of us. I'm going to try to do this in daily ways, kind and connective ways, ways that empower us to reach across differences, meet in the middle and own our personal impact. My congressional representative had some thoughts on the executive action taken by President Trump to ban immigrants. And I started a conversation with him. Here's where that letter led me. I hope you feel encouraged to have these conversations with your congressional leaders as well.
Dear Representative Huizenga,
My name is Katy Johnson and I am a resident of Ottawa County. We’ve interacted before but never face to face; I’m looking forward to the day that happens. Until then, I need to acknowledge your Facebook post last evening regarding your approval of President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration. I noticed you took great pains to emphasize that this is not a ban on Muslims entering the country.
Respectfully sir, this comment misses the point entirely. I believe you probably sense that. We the concerned are not primarily outraged by this executive order’s attack on religion. The issue is far more encompassing than that.
We the people—you and me, our community, our nation—we the people are not only a bastion of democracy kept unto ourselves; we are a haven for the oppressed. This is not just what makes us good. This is what makes us American.
We hold truths to be self-evident: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We therefore welcome all people, all echoes of our own stories, all fleeing terror, all hungry for hope. This is the reason we exist, and this is the care that has shaped our very system of governance—protecting all, honoring all, representing all. We were never only for the citizen—we shaped our country to uniquely value and redefine citizenship in ways that welcomed aliens from around the world. This posture of welcome has not always been easy. It does not come without risk. However, if we forsake it; we forsake ourselves. There are better solutions available to us than bans on children, broken families, and lives shattered by violence.
Please stand with us. Do not embody our fears (for yes, there are many). Ignite our courage. We did not elect you to toe the line for our president. We elected you to call him to more, and to make him better.
There are collaborative options for the legislative and executive branches of government to pursue regarding a national response to terror. We are looking for you to lead the way, Representative Huizenga. We are watching from our church pews, factory floors, classrooms, and local business chambers. And for my part, I am committed to walking this with you. We both have ways that we can be brave for the refugee, and I’d love to do it together.
Best wishes and highest expectations,
A note: If you are looking for an immediate way to give, I recommend the International Rescue Committee or Families Relief. If you are looking for a more pronounced presence, search your local area for churches and nonprofits working to protect and assist refugees.
Photo Citation: Everyday 2 [Syrian] Children will die making the journey across to Greece. Men, Women and Children risk their lives in hope for a better life. Families Relief. Website. January 30, 2017. https://www.familiesrelief.org.uk/campaigns/greece/