In 1939, America turned away a ship full of refugees. This is what happened next.

I remember the first time we talked about World War 2 in a history class. We were young and naive.

I remember my classmates asking questions like, “Why did we wait so long to enter into the war?” And all of us, every single one of us, said that if we had been alive at that time OF COURSE we would have been against the Nazis. OF COURSE we would have helped protect Jewish people. OF COURSE we would have hidden people in our basements and under the floor and whatever it took to keep people safe.

And I remember my history teacher saying, “Maybe you would have. But not many people did.”

I was offended. Of course I would have. Of course anyone would have.

But it wasn’t so simple then.

In the United States there was a bi-partisan bill (written by Rep. Edith Rogers (Republican) and Sen. Robert Wagner (Democrat) in 1939) to allow more refugee Jewish children into the United States. It was allowed to quietly die, unvoted upon. It appears the legislators who killed the bill were representing the American people well, because a poll a few months later showed that 2 out of 3 people preferred not to provide shelter to Jewish children fleeing the Nazis.

Still, more than 1,400 American citizens had written saying they would adopt refugee children. But opponents of the bill in Congress said that they had enough votes to kill it if it ever came up to a vote. They had to think, they said, of “America first.” And it was likely that “20,000 charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.”

On May 27th, 1939, a ship called the St. Louis arrived in Havana, Cuba. A little over 900 Jewish refugees from Germany were on it, who had purchased transit visas through Cuba. They planned to get entry visas to the United States.

The Cuban government didn’t accept most of the visas. They changed the rules while the ship was en route. They gave a

15 year old Gisella Feldman on the St. Louis. Photo by Howard Barlow.

variety of reasons for it, but most historians agree that at least one of those reasons was anti-Semitism.

These refugees were people of relative means (or people who had once been relatively well-off). Visas to Cuba cost between $300-500 (the equivalent of several thousand dollars today), plus the ticket to cross the Atlantic.

There were children on the boat, and whole families. Families like Beate and Heinrich Gabel and their toddler, Gerhard. Gerhard had been born on August 25th, 1937. He was 20 months old almost to the day when they arrived in Havana. And there were families like the Skotzkis and their children, Helga and Inge. And many other children: Lore and Eva, Gerald Granston, Gisela Feldman.

Captain Schroeder allowed the passengers to remove the portrait of Adolf Hitler from the dining hall during prayer nights. This picture is from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Although Captain Schroeder kept the St. Louis near Havana until he was ordered out of Cuban waters.

Cuba had allowed 28 passengers to disembark, leaving more than 900 passengers still aboard.

Captain Schroeder, forced to leave Cuba, turned the ship toward Miami. But they were greeted there by the U.S. Coast Guard, who made it very clear that the St. Louis would not be welcome to dock in the United States.

Passengers on the ship were panicking. Some cabled President Roosevelt, who didn’t say much other than that they would need to “wait in line” because there was already a process in place for legal immigration to the United States, and there was no way they could be allowed to wait in the U.S. while waiting their turn. There was a quota, and people in line ahead of them.

On June 6, 1939, the St. Louis headed back toward Europe. Many stood on the deck and wept.

Thanks to the tireless work of several Jewish organizations, four European countries agreed to take in the tired, poor, homeless and tempest-tossed refugees. None of them would have to return to Germany.

To Great Britain: 288 refugees (all but one refugee admitted into Britain survived the war… one was killed in an air raid).

To France: 244 refugees.

To Belgium: 214 refugees.

To the Netherlands: 181 refugees.

Of those refugees in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, 87 managed to escape the continent before the Nazis invaded.

254 of those who remained died in the Holocaust.

Helge and Inge Skotzki, aged 15 and 13, along with their parents, Gunther and Charlotte. Killed at Auschwitz.

Lore and Eva Doblon, aged 16 and 10. Killed at Auschwitz, along with their parents.

As for Dr. and Mrs. Gabel and their young son, Gerhard: they were among those who disembarked the St. Louis bound for the Netherlands. They had hoped for the United States, but were sent instead to the Westerbork transit camp. Eventually they were moved from there to the ghetto in Theresienstadt, and then from there to Auschwitz, in October 1944. By then Gerhard was seven years old, having just had his birthday two months before. Four months later, Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. Dr. Gerhard had been moved to another camp, where he died on February 28th.

There is no record of Gerhard and his mother Beate’s death.

Gerhard Gabel was a refugee from the time he was 20 months old until his death five years later, aged seven.

I’d like to think that if I had lived at that time I would have done something. That I would have spoken up, called my representative, helped find a home for Jewish refugees, sent money or snuck people out or done something other than sit and talk about it.

It’s pretty easy to see what I would have done in those days, because it’s precisely what I’m doing today.

Iraqi refugee children at Newroz camp. Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

There are more refugees in the world today than any time since World War 2. The choices we make as individuals and as Americans today are not any different than the ones we made all those years ago.

We have to understand that to suspend entry to refugees or deny refugees a place here, in our country, is the exact same decision we made when we turned away the St. Louis.

I hope to God we’ll do something about it.

__________________________________________

How to contact your government representative:

  1. Find and write to your elected officials
  2. Call your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative by dialing 1-866-940-2439.
    Once connected, you can share:

    • Your name, city, and state
    • That you are calling to express your support for the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program
    • One or two reasons why you personally believe in welcoming refugees

Participate with organizations and people making a difference:

These are people you can trust with your donations and time (I know these personally, but please feel free to add more in the comments):

Pre-emptive Love Coalition. I know the founder of this organization, Jeremy Courtney, and I’ll tell you he and his people are passionate and dedicated. I promise you will not go wrong sending them resources of any kind. They are literally on the front lines, taking materials and love to those in the most need.

WorldRelief. WorldRelief has been helping people in moments of need across the world for over seventy years. They know what they are doing, and they do it well.

Heart for Lebanon. I’ve been on the ground with these folks in Beiruit. They are the real deal. Go for a short term trip, or donate some money. They are making a difference.

More about the St. Louis refugees (including the articles I drew from for this post):

Voyage of the St. Louis

SS St Louis: The ship of Jewish refugees nobody wanted

How America’s rejection of Jew’s fleeing Nazi Germany haunts our refugee policy today

The search for the passengers of the St. Louis

Voyage of the Damned

The Tragedy of the SS St Louis

Start a conversation. Share this post. Write your own. This isn’t about politics, it’s about people. 

Author: Matt Mikalatos

Matt Mikalatos is a writer not a fighter.

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  • gsh123

    Thank you for the history lesson.

    • mattmikalatos

      You’re welcome!

  • Teri Rolley

    This is heartbreaking. But with today’s attitudes towards anyone or anything not strictly “American”, it seems like we are heading down this same road as our leaders look the other way. Can we as Christians forget that Jesus himself was a Jew? I will definitely be researching the organizations you listed to see how I can help. I think I’d rather do that than wasting words with politicians who are afraid of their shadows because of all the bullying that is going on at the national level. Thank you again for raising this to the surface.

    • Jump

      Is taking in refugees to the United States (or, simiilarly, taking them in in the numbers some want) the only way to help these poor souls? Is it really wrong to think this might be an inferior option compared to other courses of action? Jesus was a Jew, to be sure. It seems to me that the implications of that toward 21st century United States Syrian refugee policy follows from that, though.

      • mattmikalatos

        It’s not the only way, certainly. But it is a way. Does this have to be either/or rather than both/and?

      • Teri Rolley

        It is certainly not the only way, but as with the Jews, when so many are children who have lost everything and everyone, I do not see any alternatives being promoted that will help them immediately. Surely we don’t all believe that young children coming here and living safe and healthy lives will suddenly sprout terrorist genes and turn on us. There is no science that shows that we carry some latent tendency in childhood to behave this way.

  • Jump

    “We have to understand that to suspend entry to refugees or deny refugees a place here, in our country, is the exact same decision we made when we turned away the St. Louis.”

    Why think this? Indeed, there are good reasons to think this false. For one, we aren’t in a pre-WWII world; things are different. The way we show concern and help people looks different in different situations. This overly simplistic thinking (according to which there is just ONE way to do right in a situation) is unfortunately the Achilles heel of a good many social justice movements. It is why they often either less good than they could otherwise, or worse, do no good, or still worse, more harm than good.

    I think this is in fact a better way to think about it:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/2015/11/refugees-prudence-isnt-cruel-and-tokenism-is-not-virtue/

    • mattmikalatos

      Does the preference of the refugees enter in at all? It seems like the solutions suggested in that other post are primarily “we will figure out what is best and let you know.” Would allowing human agency and participation in seeking solutions from the refugees be a good thing?

      • Sharon Hanna Canaday

        *gasp* but… (inserting tongue solidly in my cheek here, just to be clear) That would mean we would have to acknowledge the fact that they are human beings!!!

    • Jinxie Clark

      how do you know we are not in PRE WWIII? just wondering because it really seems to me we ARE headed there.

  • sunny

    With all the respect, the parallelism is not right. I don;t find similiraties with the two groups of refugees: jews with the refugees of Middle East. As long as i have lived I have not seen or heard about jews exploding themselves in markets or airports or cafes, killing or raping women in the countries that sheltered them. I am afraid that many do not comprehend of what the world is dealing with and how this group of people does not respect the culture that shelters and host them but sees them as their enemies and do not care about them. Not everyone is like that, but like mostly if they practice their religion, they will see you just a doormat to reach their goal. We should pray and we should seek God for wisdom, we should seek His face and we should proclaim the gospel. It is the gospel that changes people, not just works of relief. Remember the story in Kings when Assyrians dressed as refugees and pretended to have come from afar, they dressed in worn out clothes and they were spies. The king took them in, fed them, without consulting the Lord, and the next step was: Israel was invaded. Let us seek God, not in fear, but for discernment, because these times seek discernment and not opinions or emotionalism. Blessings

    • mattmikalatos

      “Jewish terrorism” is actually a thing. Do a search and you’ll find the stories.

      Also: you’re equating people who are running from violence with the perpetrators of violence. No one is suggesting not being discerning or not vetting. I am suggesting however that to stop helping refugees is indeed an act with moral consequences.

    • Becca

      As a Jew I think it’s blind racism that you don’t think there is a similarity.
      You couldn’t be more misguided in your beliefs. In the last 18 months I have worked in 70% of the camps in Greece and I can tell you these are innocent people like you and me. Pregnant women, 40% children in the camps. I have met and helped thousands of refugees working with the organization Carry the Future, distributing family and baby goods, and I can tell you there is almost never violence in a camp. Because of their religion there is no drinking or drugs, and the camps are full of children running around praying to god to help them find a home country that will accept them, or praying to god to be reunited with their families wherever they are. I can confidently say from experience that 0% of refugee babies are terrorists. I stand is solidarity and will not stop aiding the refugee families. Indeed it is the only thing in this age of hate and self centered rhetoric that is giving me faith to go on. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/27bd053f553e1ac5d986f3fb2a41f8bab3c46209e8409a9e32cba330c4bb1d39.jpg

      • sunny

        Becca, I am overwhelmed by the emotionalism I see, and I am revolted by the fact that you are finding worth in what you do and putting to risk others lives. Have you ever lived in their country with these people? Do they allow you to practice your freedom? Are they so nice to you in their country, will they support your faith, will they allow you to talk freely about your faith, to worship freely etc? What about those refugees you helped who went to Germany and France and killed the innocent child of someone else? Can you please stop be selfish and hide behind your good deeds and play God on earth? I am a Christian, I have a Muslim background, I know what it means to serve among them, I love them as I have been one of them, I have served among them, but I am frustrated by the blindness and selfishness and self righteousness of those serving among refugees like you are saving the world and are the most loving and sacrificial life on earth and the rest do not have a heart!. I have served while being threatened. What do you know while speaking about blindness? Have you ever felt responsible for those you fed who went and killed innocent people, who raped innocent women? How are you providing protection? Or are you thinking only how to feel good in the evening that you served?

        • sunny

          I believe we should serve and help them, I have served in refugee camps, have cleaned while they were mocking at me, and while men were teasing because I was a woman! I believe we should love and serve our enemies, but governments are responsible to protect their people, and nobody can deny that this refugee crisis is so simple as open the doors and let them turn your own home upside down.

        • Becca

          I serve because I feel responsible and ashamed of my country. Mostly because of misguided people like you. My entire life is devoted to the service of infants and pregnant women. I serve my country at home at abroad. I advocate for public health tirelessly. You are the most centered biased person I have ever encounterd on the internet (I’m actually considering the true possibility you are a troll trying to gaslight me so I’m not going to respond to anything else you post)

  • ww

    Because of the other replies that I find less than supportive, I feel the need to say thank you for the shove. It’s out my comfort zone to call by senators and reps, I usually email them and my husband usually calls. But clearly these people were forced out of their comfort zones, as are our refugees around the world today, and I need to step out of mine for the refugees and so many other people. Too much is at stake in the USA right now not to call.

    • mattmikalatos

      That’s really kind and thank you so much for making the call!

  • Beth Sekishiro

    Thanks for the kick in the butt to act…I finally called my rep about this. Really disheartened to read that the executive order on refugees was just signed – if it’s anything like the draft, it’ll be bad news. I appreciate the way you continue to speak for the vulnerable despite the cost!

    • mattmikalatos

      Thanks, Beth! Glad you called your rep.

  • Christopher S. Williams

    Sad story and very well written but that situation is not at all like today, especially in regard to refugees fleeing Muslim countries. You see, we didnt have to worry about Jewish refugees turning on those that had helped them. There were no secret Nazis pretending to be Jews or Jewish children in order to get into America and commit acts of terror. The simple fact that they were non violent is what makes our turning them away seem heartless.

    In a world of fake news we also must be wary of biased news that uses facts and truth to distort a story line in order to support an belief or agenda. Give us a balanced story that actually compares apples to apples not apples and oranges. Even if only one terrorist hid amongst the many refugees coming from Muslim countries and then killed or injured many others later that is one too many. Do your research – how many terrorists have hidden in the mass of refugees and once settled wreaked havoc anywhere in the world? If you say none then you are blind and ignorant and too biased to be a journalist. Please, do your homework or stop writing.

    • mattmikalatos

      Hey Christopher —

      You’d do well to take your own advice. Since 9/11 there have been zero refugees who gone through our screening processes and have gone on to commit terrorist violence in the United States. Our screening process is already extremely thorough (in addition to what the UN does).

      There are Jewish terrorists, and there were in the 1940s. That’s well documented. The reasons given by politicians and citizens in the United States in the 1940s as to why not accept children as refugees included fear of violence from Germany, fear of Jews greedily destroying the United States because Jews are greedy, Jews being “ugly”, and many others… all pretty similar to reasons being given today.

      The vast majority of refugees are also non-violent, You’re worried about terrorists hiding among them, and that’s fine. But to say that because perpetrators of violence may be hidden among the victims is a reason not to help the victims is baffling to me. And to say there were no Nazis “pretending to be Jewish children” is hilarious to me: there aren’t any terrorists pretending to be refugee Syrian children, either. “Shave your beard, pretend to be seven years old, go through the 2 year UN vetting process, then the US process, here are some fake papers saying you’re seven. When you get to America wreak havoc.” There’s a reason “hiding among refugees to get to America” isn’t a great way to set up a terrorist attack: it’s actually already pretty hard to get here that way.

      And: like in 1939, when we didn’t even take in our full quote of immigrants AND turned away Jewish kids AND turned away the SS St Louis, we’re about to do the exact same thing now: stop taking refugees for months, and effectively cut the number we’re accepting in half. It’s exactly the same. Your fear of Muslims isn’t any different than the fear of Jews in 1939. They thought their fear of Jewish people was completely justified, too.

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/non-muslims-carried-out-more-than-90-of-all-terrorist-attacks-in-america/5333619

      • Andrew

        It has yet to be explained, however, why it is better, easier or more efficient for refuge to be found in the US than say, any other place in Europe that might be much closer, cheaper to travel to and easier to get into. Sure, Europe has many refugees already and many problems have accompanied this fact, however, soullessness, inhumanity or any notion of denying one’s Christian morality are not prerequisites for the suggestion that there are perhaps better solutions than placing them in the US–one does not have to deny their Christian morality to say “hey, maybe Europe is the best solution.” Why is it so imperative that they come to the U.S.? From a purely logistical perspective it would be far more effective to relocate refugees somewhere closer to where they came from, save, of course, for the possibility that ISIS has, somehow, within it’s capacity the conquest of an entire continent akin to the Nazis. Of course, they do not. If ISIS conquers Europe then there is a moral case for granting legal respite for these people, if ISIS does not conquer Europe I do not see the same urgency for the supposed moral imperative to bring refugees to the U.S. The threat of ISIS is not equivalent in scale to the threat of Nazi Germany.

        • mattmikalatos

          Andrew, I’m sorry but do you know and understand the refugee process? You know the refugees pay for their own travel to the US right? And you realize that there are more refugees today than at any point in our history? And a plane flight from Europe is only hours long… it’s not like it’s a logistical nightmare to move people here.

          • Andrew

            I don’t claim to be any sort of authority, though, yes, I understand that generally a refugee pays their own way to where ever it is they may be going. We also have the highest population in world history and every basic sub group or demographic of that would then presumably be greater than “any point in history.” Unless we are ascribing some utilitarian value to humans then there is no greater morality to be had in taking 1 refugee or 20 million refugees supposing all souls are equally priceless. Even if there is a moral argument there is still the legal argument to be had. If you want to go immigrate somewhere, do it on the terms of the host country. Can you explain why any individual has a right to abide in any other country in a manner contrary to that country’s laws?

          • mattmikalatos

            There is nothing that requires that we have a greater number of refugees because of a greater population. If you’d rather do it in percentages, we have nearly one percent of the world population displaced right now. So it’s not only that the population is growing, it’s that we have a greater percentage of refugees than in the past.

            I think you misunderstand how priceless works. If each is priceless, there is still greater value in saving a hundred over saving one. If a museum is burning and you save one priceless painting, it is a wonderful thing, but it is not the same as saving them all.

            The legal argument here sidesteps the question of whether the law itself is moral. In this story, for instance, the refugees were doing their best to abide by the laws of the countries they wished to immigrate to. Politicians in Cuba changed the laws when they were en route, and the US, knowing that is what had happened, turned them away rather than letting them in. Many of them died. That’s no great argument for the justice of the laws of Cuba or the United States at that time. If all people are created equal with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it seems that the failure of the US to take those Jewish refugees was against its own values.

          • Andrew

            Indeed, having more refugees is not a requirement of a higher population. Certainly there are demographics that will now be fewer than before; polio survivors, model-T owners, citizens of Yugoslavia. Of course I’m being silly but you see the point that, of course, not all groups will grow correlative to population but presumably most major categorizations would be higher in number due to higher population.

            Also, the 1% displaced is taken from this set of figures I imagine http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html and it is important to point out that a forcibly displaced individual is not necessarily a refugee, and, in fact, a person only becomes a refugee when they have left their home country, hence the figure of 65 million displaced yet only 21 million refugees–not all people who are displaced are refugees though all refugees are displaced. The conversation specifically pertains to people leaving their home nations for different ones and is therefore not a discussion about the 1% of people who are displaced but is rather a discussion of the 1/3 of that 1% who aim to go to other nations and I do not know how that compares historically, again, likely higher.

            If the law is itself immoral, either in the constitution or the executive order, then the burden is on its critics make that case as to why. That is, they must display essentially why any person has a right to enter any country. The executive order is not unconstitutional even if it isn’t the finest piece of policy. If it is immoral to limit anyone from coming into a country then every country is behaving immorally on this matter because they all have limitations, but again, the critic must convince others why that person has a right to enter that country. They don’t, nobody has that right, and I don’t see the immorality in adhering to this fact. Otherwise we may as well do away with all borders entirely.

          • Andrew

            also the notion that priceless + priceless > priceless is the logical equivalent that infinity + infinity > infinity.

          • mattmikalatos

            Fair point on the refugee vs. displaced.

            I didn’t say anything about the executive order. It does seem in hindsight that it was immoral to turn away the refugee Jews. At least, I think so. What do you think?

            Also: if you want to live in the world of math, sure. There are greater and lesser degrees of infinity. I’m sure you’re already aware of set theory and Cantor’s theory and so on. But in moral situations regarding human life, surely you are not saying that one and three are equal? Is saving one out of thirty people identical to saving twenty out of thirty?

          • Andrew

            Well, presumably this whole thread is in the context of the executive order and/or Constitution. That’s all the more my comments on the order were making reference to.

            I’ve been thinking–Yes. It is far easier to say “yes, it was immoral to deny the Jews entry in the context of global affairs in 1939.” Again, the entire European continent was in jeopardy as well as much of North Africa and an entire people were facing actual systematic and global annihilation. The same plainly cannot be said of this refugee crisis. There are neighbor countries much closer that are much more similar to their own cultures which, I presume, might be preferable to moving to a culture with which you may have no experience; neighbor countries who don’t have the interest of destroying all Yazidis or all Syrians for example. Where the Nazi’s had the ability to conquer France, a potential safe place for Jews, ISIS does not today have the capacity to lay siege to Turkey, Iran, Greece etc.

            Regarding morality and human life; Clearly there is a difference to be had between saving the 1 and saving the 20 but I do not think that difference is a moral difference for the individual doing the saving (in our circumstance, those whom you might implore to act now for refugees as though they might have acted in 1939 for the Jews.) The outcome has a material value, a physical value and utility to be sure in that more individuals were saved and their lives preserved but I do not think saving the 20 is morally superior to saving the 1. If it is NOT morally superior to save the 20 there is then no greater moral imperative to act for the benefit of the 20 than for the benefit of the 1. If we say there IS a greater moral imperative to benefit the 20 we must admit to a base Utilitarian view of humanity as the imperative for the 1 has become less than the imperative for the 20, implying the value of the 1 as being less than the value of the 20, which is fine in math but math is not morality, obviously.

            Would you say that it requires greater moral fortitude to save 1 than 20? I suggest no. And yet, is it not somehow better to save 20? I suggest yes. But it is better because it is more moral? I do not believe so. If this much is true then the value in saving the 20 over the 1 has to be a value other than the moral type. And if that is true (to carry the thought to our current circumstance) there is then no greater moral imperative to grant refuge to refugees simply because it is the highest refugee population in history. Even if this is not exactly your suggestion, I still do not find moral equivalence between the crisis of today and the crisis of the Jews in WWII. I might have called my representative then as well but I don’t think the same moral imperative exists at the moment.

    • Becca

      You couldn’t be more misguided in your beliefs. In the last 18 months I have worked in 70% of the camps in Greece and I can tell you these are innocent people like you and me. Pregnant women, 40% children in the camps. I have met and helped thousands of refugees working with the organization Carry the Future, distributing family and baby goods, and I can tell you there is almost never violence in a camp. Because of their religion there is no drinking or drugs, and the camps are full of children running around praying to god to help them find a home country that will accept them, or praying to god to be reunited with their families wherever they are. I can confidently say from experience that 0% of refugee babies are terrorists. I stand is solidarity and will not stop aiding the refugee families. Indeed it is the only thing in this age of hate and self centered rhetoric that is giving me faith to go on. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0787c19ab8e9bd7676a0242746ef454d95fd79f3174eb5b34de709142f7b9cb7.jpg

      • mattmikalatos

        Becca, thank you for sharing and thank you so much for your work in the refugee camps. That’s amazing. I’m thankful for you and your work.

    • Scotti Cox Hollingsworth

      Very good points!! I simply don’t understand this approach that we “flung open the gates” and let all rational and responsible thought go flying out the window.
      I have heard of and seen countless things happening in Europe and the incredible difficulties they’re having with rapes, theft and the mere issue that many MEN are not the boys they’re claiming to be. Many Somalian men arrived into Germany and were videoed stating simply – they would not work, but only there to take advantage of everything.
      A balanced approach where they can be vetted with careful consideration means some will be allowed in.
      But this utopian ass-backwards concept that they’ll all come in and we’re gonna be hopping and skipping on the -completely free – playground is the most atrociously stupid modern thought I have ever heard.

    • Kim Lane

      So tell me why this ban does NOT include Saudi Arabians? After all VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE TERROSIST PILOT ON 9/11 CAME FROM SAUDI ARABIA.

      • Andrew

        It should have. As well as Egypt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. certainly one of the shortcomings of the policy

    • Frederick Hazard

      We know that you have the right to voice your opinions and beliefs, but it you who must do your homework. I am a Native American, yes the people who this land belonged to, and fed your starving ancestors. You are the beneficiary of the grace and kindness of Americans, who allowed your ancestors into our country. As we know the suffering my people endured, destroyed most of the world we new as our home, for more than 25,000 years. Despite what we endured, we fought in your wars and protected your freedom, having started none of them. With some of your ancestors, also came the sick, murderous, ideology of bigotry and hate.

      Through all this, we still believe in the rights and freedom from oppression for all people, and welcome them to our land. So I ask you, please stop spreading the same bigotry and ignorant fear, that continues to infect the minds of too many, and help others to gain the same freedom given to yours!

  • Marci Royal Huggins

    “People who know nothing about the United States refugee program seem to think that refugee visas are handed out like candy. They do not understand the multiple levels of security clearances refugees must make it through and the years it often takes to do so. They do not know that refugees do not get to decide which country invites them to resettle. Trump is working to turn a humanitarian program into a partisan divide with one side bolstered by fear and bigotry.”

    Written by someone who helps resettle refugees in the US and who is very near and dear to me.

  • Caryn Adams Livingston

    Matt, I learned your name for the first time in 2012 at Big Break in Panama City Beach, FL when you addressed all of us Cru students! Lots of respect for you and your opinions. So glad I read this article when my friend shared it today.

    • mattmikalatos

      Thanks so much, Caryn. I appreciate your kind words and the flashback to Big Break!

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  • MiamiJax

    There’s a difference here, though: none of these folks had come from a place where people were sawing the heads off of human beings.

    We won’t be “shamed” or “guilted” into some false moral imperative on this. This time, it’s a not only a war for civilization, but for self-preservation as well.

    Those folks in Syria have to have some sort of buy-in. Right now, there’s no rudder and no gauge for us to determine who and what is coming.

    But one thing is clear: we won’t allow the kinds of people to be allowed here as have been allowed in Europe where rapes, assaults, and murders have spiked due to them being guilted into their settling there.

    • mattmikalatos

      Um… I mean, it’s not like the Nazis were handing out foot massages.

      • MiamiJax

        If need be, I can find you some LiveLeak URLs showing video of ISIS terrorists sawing the heads off of human beings, destroying works thousands of years old, and present some crime statistics of how people are being raped and assaulted in the Scandinavian countries who were shame days into taking these animals into their nations as they let the sovereignty slip away to the EU and Merkel’s twisted vision for Europe.

        No, we won’t allow it here. We will fight those who would make us weak.

        • mattmikalatos

          Just for clarity’s sake: are you suggesting the Nazis were not involved in genocidal violence against the Jewish people?

          • MiamiJax

            W-H-A-T in the world are you talking about?! Are you even responding to the correct thread? Get a grip.

          • mattmikalatos

            I’m just wondering whether you believe the Holocaust happened. It’s a simple enough question.

          • MiamiJax

            It’s a silly question. Of course it happened. For the three people in the world who deny it and actually believe it, we cannot help them. 😉

          • mattmikalatos

            I’m sure that’s true!

    • mattmikalatos

      So I guess your argument is that these refugees are in GREATER need of our help because extremist Muslims are more frightening and violent than Nazis? Okay. I can get on board with that. How many refugees should we take?

      • MiamiJax

        You are misreading. Go back and re-read for context. What makes it our station to be susceptible to the kinds of people who could be resettled here and cause us harm? Where is there a mandate for that to be the case? That’s simply not intelligent. That is the difference in his case.

        • mattmikalatos

          Ah. So you are aware that misreading something and saying something completely off topic is not helpful. Great. Why don’t you go read the post again and then start over.

          • MiamiJax

            Context has been lost. I’ve seen your other posts; you’re clearly on some sort of mission that has made a one-track pattern of thinking in your mind – and I have found, no good can come of speaking to such a person. Good day.

          • mattmikalatos

            Well seeing as how my previous post was a comic about a frog and a bunny I guess I can see your point.

  • Courtney Pope

    I’m lucky to work with immigrants and refugees on a daily basis. I hear echoes of their stories in the stories of those on the St. Louis that you shared here. I’m haunted by the words of one of my clients who was facing an asylum application a few months ago and contemplating his fate if the application was denied. “Go back to my country?” he said incredulously. “How? The only thing that is waiting for me there is the grave.” And this isn’t hyperbole: dozens of his peers have been killed in this past year, and he continues to receive death threats.

    Grateful that many – including many in the church, including you – are working to be on a different side of history this time.

  • Jesse Weaver

    I’m all for helping refugees but we must be mindful of Muslim’s and their Sharia law, much of Europe is becoming increasingly Muslim , with Sharia law killing women in effect in places, and no go zones where non Muslim’s can go,

    Very much at odds with our freedoms in USA but liberals don’t see that,

    All that being said I still don’t know what the solution is , I could never turn needy refugees away, pray!!, give , give!!

  • Kara

    Thank you for a great post.

  • Pingback: On Refugees with Andrew Baron of Humanwire | StoryMen()

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