Thousands of Americans streamed into our nation’s airports this past weekend to both protest President Trump’s mean-spirited and ill-conceived exclusion ban and to support our Muslim immigrants, refugees, and neighbors.
Heidi Ortiz, a volunteer from Justice for Our Neighbors Dallas-Fort Worth was there. This is her story:
On Sunday morning, January 29th, we received the message via Facebook. People with valid visas and permanent residency cards (green cards) were being detained at DFW airport. We decided instead of attending service at our local United Methodist Church, we should immediately go to the airport to show our support. Rumors were circulating that officials were pressuring the detained to waive their rights and get on an 11 AM flight out of the country. We loaded the kids into the car, said a prayer, and were on our way.
At the airport, there were people of all different types, and many families with kids. The airport police were visible and courteous. As long as protesters did not get in the way of passengers or airport workers, we were able to chant and hold signs. One of the chants that caught my attention was “free my Grandma”. Later I learned via the Dallas Morning News that a number of the detained were elderly with health issues.
Someone had brought supplies to make posters. For myself, I made a sign that says “Jesus stands with Refugees”. In addition to being theologically sound (indeed, Christ loves all people), I wanted our Muslim brothers and sisters to know that as a Christian, I was standing with them. Jesus himself was a refugee, fleeing to Egypt after an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream.
For my two-year-old daughter I wrote “Toddlers Stand with Refugees”. She has a friend her age whose parents are from Yemen. While their exact status may not be refugees, the mother told me they cannot go back because of the dire situation in that country. Toddlers don’t care much about borders—they just love people!
No one wants terrorists in this country. Unfortunately, so many people are unaware of the different types of immigration to the U.S. Refugees are fleeing war. Lawful permanent residents have already made their home in the U.S. In both cases, those detained are our neighbors AND they had legal permission to enter our country. This sudden action did not stop terrorists. It was wrong and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to oppose it personally. Before we left the airport, we stopped to pray as a family.
My prayer for you is the same as the one at the airport — that God will open our hearts to be more like Him and that He would show us how to love our neighbors as ourselves in these trying times.