On Saturday, February 4, over 100 Knox County citizens gathered on the Mount Vernon Square to express their support for immigration and immigrants. These citizens reinforced the fact that all of us are here because of immigration and that immigrants have made our country great. They also expressed strong support for values – Christian values, values established in the U.S. Constitution, and basic human values.
When asked “why you are here today,” these were some of the responses:
My family is immigrants. They came in 1622 as undocumented aliens. The idea that people should be excluded from America, especially people who are suffering so much, women and children, Is unconscionable. We call ourselves a Christian nation and what Christian turns away or ignores the refugees and those in need.”
“(I’m) just standing up for people who are being marginalized and shut out and I don’t think that’s what American is about or should be about.”
“I grew up in an ultra- conservative home and when I went to college I was educated on some of the bigotry that I was raised with. It’s rare that I see minds changed but this is the kindest and gentlest way that I know of to educate others.”
“I’m standing up for the rights of people and for us to follow our Christian Values. I was a stranger and you did not let me in? I was in prison and you did not visit me? I was hungry and you did not feed me? This is a very Christian place and I want people to live out their Christian values and oppose Trump.”
“(It is a) moral obligation to our fellow citizens and fellow human beings to stand up for human rights, to stand up for civil rights, to stand up for voting rights, and to honor the history of our country.
“One (reason) is my faith as a Christian and a Christian pastor to protect the lost, the least and those who are suffering. Jesus was a refugee. We’re looking at people who are not just looking for a job but are fleeing for their lives. These are people coming to find safety from the bombardment of constant war.”
“My grandpa was an Italian, my son is a Guatemalan immigrant, and my friend is a Yemen immigrant. I love them all. My grandfather faced discrimination. My son is beginning to face discrimination as a teenager; he gets second looks from the police when he walks down the street. And my friend is not sure what her future holds . Her country is in civil war and her whole family is spread around the world.”
“I’m here because nobody wants to leave their neighborhood, their home, their country. If they are desperate enough to leave, they need to have a welcoming place when they come here.”
“We’re here because a lot of things are going on in our country that don’t represent what America should be and we want to take an active part in shaping the future for ourselves and our children. We want this country to be a shining light and we feel that light is getting very dim.”
“I’m here because I think it is up to all of us in small rural towns all across America to let people know that the caricatures that they see in the media, on talk radio and on line are not true. We are good neighbors and we care and I think we can bring a good perspective. A lot of disinformation has been put out there.”
“We should be building bridges, not walls. We should be joining together.”