John Paul Bertke | Indy Week

John Paul Bertke 
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Re: “You Are Welcome Here

"The Immigration Issue" begins with "You Are All Welcome Here", printed in 7 different languages, setting the tone for an informative, well-coordinated series of well-written essays! The next page gives us the Emma Lazarus sonnet that is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty, those purely patriotic American words, welcoming "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" to the American Dream. All of us need to read and recite those quintessentially American and undeniably religious words. We need to take the extra time to reflect on the beauty, the color, the music, the culture, the ideas - all of the magical differences that we gain...this opportunity to blend our ethnic diversities into the richest culture on earth.

And I appreciated your Amanda Abrams piece "Blessed Are the Merciful", which makes it clear that Christians have a role to play in this drama. Surely they cannot ignore the New Testament words of Jesus Christ, who was very crystal clear in demanding support for the poor and strangers in our communities. There can be no doubt on what Jesus would expect of them in this contemporary immigration situation.

In subsequent pages, Jeffrey Billman layed out beautiful infographics to amaze us with numbers: 794,700 (almost a million!) foreign born residents of North Carolina, 294,500 of them undocumented. And what a wonderful diaspora of ethnic diversity, woven into our social, linguistic, cultural, and economic fabric: 426,055 Latin Americans, 210,136 Asians, 87,866 Europeans, 47,503 new Africans, and dozens more smaller groups.

Sarah Willets "The Waiting" told the story of a pregnant immigrant Raleigh mother and her encounters with ICE and other heartwrenching stories of families torn apart by the ICE agents, husband from wife, brother from sister, mother from child, scenarios that are now occurring with alarming regularity under executive orders from a hate-crazed, xenophobic Trump administration.

Thomas Goldsmith's "In the Shadows" described the low-key efforts of North Carolina cities to avoid giving help to the ICE agents as they swarm through our communities with no sense of responsibility for the trail of family and personal tragedies that they create everywhere they go. And sadly, ICE enjoys the help and support of Wake County sherriff Donny Harrison.

Thanks to Sarah Willetts for her chart on how immigrants can avoid ICE, how to react when they find themselves in ICE custody, and about the relative safety of school properties.

Ken Fine provided an uplifting interview with US Representative G.K. Butterfield, who showed a wise and warm compassion for the immigrants among us, and an appreciation for the benefits that we all gain from the ethnic diversity they bring into our communities. And he explained, for those who need to measure consequences in dollars and cents, that our state's economy is very dependent upon these immigrant workers.

I really enjoyed Erica Hellerstein's essay "The Mountain People" about the 20,000 Vietnamese Montagnards who have found a home in Raleigh. I've had the personal pleasure of meeting many of these gentle, soft-spoken people.

Ken Fine comes back for "Strangers In a Strange Land", explaining the pressures that are placed upon our new immigrants, who must work with only 3 initial months of assistance, learn as much English as possible from their ESL instructors, and then quickly find some kind of niche in the local economy.

Nijah McKinney adds "How To Help", an introduction to local non-profits that can help. This article was very useful in getting me started to toward donating and volunteering.

And finally, a special treat: a poster in the centerfold of this Indy issue: a "Raleigh Welcomes You" Poster, repeating those words in 17 different languages. I taped it carefully to the front window until I can score a larger lawn poster to let immigrants in my neighborhood know that I care so very much about them!

Indy, this was your best issue ever! The staff writers each contributed a gem to the collection, and the sum is greater than its parts. The issue was full of useful information. And I hope that we will find many follow-up stories coming, in order to keep our knowledge current, and keep close tract of friends and villians in this fluid situation, in which this unprecedented wave of hate and ignorance is being visited upon our communities right now.

And in conclusion, here are 3 thought-provoking essays from the New York Times, that illucidate some of the damage that Trump's xenophobic rage is causing in America:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/opinion/george-soros-when-hate-surges.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/25/opinion/the-costs-of-mr-trumps-dragnet.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/opinion/president-trumps-reckless-shame-
game.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

by John Bertke, commenting on the Indy Week 3/22/2017 issue dedicated to a multi-article feature entitled "American Dreamers, A Special Immigration Issue".

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by John Paul Bertke on 03/25/2017 at 4:00 AM

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