September 21, 2016

NO. Governor Abbott. NO.

I write this from Germany where I’ve been invited to speak to 1,500 German public, private and NGO leaders and volunteers about best ideas for the long term integration of immigrants and refugees. Germany has welcomed 1.1 million refugees to their country. Every major city here has taken in 100–200K people. Now, leaders are intensely focused on the best way to include their new neighbors in economic and civic life for the long term. It has come at a price, but officials here have shown great courage standing up to misplaced fears and anger — responding with calm, competent compassion. How can we do less?

At no time has our welcome work been more important or more necessary. We must have courage and determination — and we must use our voices to answer fear with facts, and cowardice with courage. How can we do less?

We have power — influence, institutional credibility; moral authority based upon the values of the institutions we serve.

Our governor is on the wrong side of history. On the wrong side of justice. On the wrong side of moral imperatives of every faith tradition. And on the wrong side of the laws of our country. We cannot remain quiet, be silent as he unravels our reputation as a compassionate and generous people.

We do not know when we will be as refugees, when we will be among the “shipwrecked” washed ashore in some place depending upon kindness and generosity for survival. And desperately hoping to be seen not as unwelcome objects of fear but valued new neighbors. In the vast global neighborhood, we live interconnected lives in an abundant world. We must step forward now to hold the ground for our neighbors. We must continue to welcome refugees, as if to a reunion, as our faith and laws dictate.

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