The following is an open letter from Rev. Deth Im, director of Training and Development for Faith in Action, urging us to treat all immigrant with Christlike dignity.
“My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1973, before war and genocide destroyed Cambodia. As I reflect on my immigrant experience, I’m grateful that time and again, I was blessed to be in relationship with people who treated me as neighbor rather than as other. To be clear, there have been times when I’ve been ‘otherized.’ Once in college, I was filling up my gas tank and a car drove by in which a guy yelled out the window, ‘Stupid Chink, go back to where you came from. We don’t want you here.’ The guys in that car saw me as other; that is, as different from them. Since I am different, they could treat me differently. Often to treat someone as other is to treat them without dignity. “Othering” can mean offering different resources to different people. It can be used to determine who is worthy and who is not. Tragically, it can result in the loss of life when someone determines that people are so different they deserve death such as what happened to Jewish congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue.”
There’s a revealing story in Christian scripture found in Luke 24:13-35. Two disciples were sad and scared, because they watched their teacher get murdered. As they were walking, their teacher joins them, but they do not recognize him. Then something beautiful happens. They invite this stranger who had joined them on the road to share a meal with them and it is at this point their eyes are truly opened.
Notice their actions include rather than ostracize. There were no preconditions for inclusion.