There is enough room at the table for immigrants.
There always has been. That has not changed, but attitudes have.
While many in the U.S. want to chant “Make America Great Again,” many folks around the world see America as “great enough!”
That is because of the terror they are fleeing. Their lives are constantly in danger, many of their family members have died, and they are in fear of their lives. So, turning to America is their hope and their salvation.
There was a time when America led the world by welcoming and assimilating more refugees than all other nations combined.
We led by example. We practiced what we preached. We welcomed those who lived in daily terror for their own safety and the safety of their families.
We do not know what they face; the fear and terror that was a daily part of their lives. Most of us have little experience with that.
So, for many, their ultimate destination is America. After all, it is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Our success across the years has elevated us to a destination for those oppressed, suppressed and afraid for their own safety. The journey to America is not taken lightly; rather, it is a journey of desperation.
What would you do if you believed your family was at risk? What would you do if the streets of your town were engulfed in fire fights between rival groups, gangs or armies? What would you do to keep your children safe?
Immigrants are not bad people; they are desperate people.
That is the fallacy of “America First,” of closing our borders, of withdrawing the welcome mat to the world. Such attitudes and actions are a failure of compassion and of leadership by the most powerful nation.
That is what our current administration has never understood. We don’t solve international problems by withdrawing. Such foolishness always results in catastrophic results. That is where we are today.
I am comfortable in saying America did not choose its place in the world. We were “go along to get along” people. We seem to have always been.
With a few exceptions, we have not been imperialistic. We have not had designs on world domination. We liked to tend to our own business and let the world tend to its business.
However, that was not what unfolded. The success, a resulting prosperity, of the American experiment has made the United States a major player on the world scene.
I hope we have learned our lessons on starting wars. Perhaps we will recognize that when we shy away from international leadership, it is to our great shame.
We were comfortable with our lives, did not feel any real connection to Europe and, as a result entered WWI late, but our entrance was critical.
We were a strategic part of the League of Nations, but that did not stop Hitler, resulting in our entrance into WWII late but proving to be a decisive force in the war against the power of Hitler and Japan.
Wise leadership after WWII led to the rebuilding of Europe and Japan, resulting in long-lasting relationships and alliances.
What about now?
With the election of a new president, America should return to its place in leading the world. Not because we have any aspirations for unbridled power, but rather to be leaders in fostering dialogue and cooperation toward a more just world.
America is an immigrant nation. Even now, our very life and economy are shaped by immigrants.
Our tech industry benefits from the genius of men and women from around the world. We are a magnet for those who want a career in technology.
Our healthcare industry is dependent on folks migrating to America. My current roster of physicians is half white and half non-white. I celebrate that.
And on and on it goes. I believe it is the genius of the American experience.
In fact, despite the negative rhetoric from certain segments of society, I have not met an immigrant who was not working hard to feed their families. The characterization of immigrants as “freeloaders” is inaccurate. The ones I have met are the hardest working people I have met.
I welcome those who make their way to America.
Whether it is through a system of allocations for which they have qualified or crossing our southern border seeking refuge or asylum, we are the better for their presence, and our nation better for their arrival.
Wash your hands, wear your masks for others, mind the gap and be kind.
A private practice counselor working with veterans and survivors of trauma, he recently relocated to Round Rock, Texas, to be closer to family. Previously, Chancellor served four churches in Texas for 33 years, then ran a Mental Health Department of Alan B. Polunsky Maximum Security prison which houses death row.