By Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
One of the charitable organizations well worth supporting is “Doctors Without Borders.” International in scope, it wasfounded in France in 1971 by doctors and journalists responding to the crisis in Biafra. Its name in French is “Médecins Sans Frontières” (MSF), and I highly recommend its website, www.msf.org. The organization’s title accurately reflects what they do: they “provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare.” According to their website, their actions “are guided by medical ethics and the principles of impartiality, independence, and neutrality.”
If you looked at their website this week you would read about two migration crises calling out for MSF assistance. The first reflects MSF efforts assisting migrants detained on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea, where primarily Middle Eastern refugees have made their way ashore headed to a better life in countries of the European Union. Hundreds of those migrants are now reported missing with many othersthreatened, abducted, and ill-treated. MSF is providing care tothose whom they have been able to reach. The organization has formally asked the Greek government “to end the arbitrary detention of unregistered new arrivals.” Greece is a founding NATO member and not a so-called “Third World country,” many of which ignore international human rights standards for those seeking physical or economic asylum.
The second crisis, sad to say, is about similar treatment of unregistered new arrivals right here in the United States, at oursouthern border. Adriana Palomares is the MSF head of mission in Mexico and Central America. When the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in turn ended the Trump administration’s Title 42 restrictions to asylum and immigration, she wrote that “The Biden administration promised to build a safe, fair, and humane immigration system. Instead, it has continued or expanded ways to keep people from seeking asylum at the US southern border. For many of the patients we treat along the migration route, returning home is not an option.”
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam each has as a foundational principle the divine mandate to “Welcome the Stranger.” This heritage is fundamental to our nation of immigrants, regardless of religion. We are not a Third World country, nor are we an economically struggling state like Greece; we should not be acting like one. Many U.S. politicians talk about the “Biden border crisis” as if the current U.S. administration caused it, without saying how we should square our national policy with the heritage we share. As Palomares says, “Pushing migrants back, detaining them, abandoning them, or purposefully making the process so difficult that they just give up their quest to reach the U.S. is a cruel policy that only endangers people.” Especially in a decade marked by U.S. employers unsuccessfully seeking new employees, we should stop that, and we should do so immediately. Instead, we should live up to our American heritage, and Welcome the Stranger.