Would you harbor a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a heretic, convict or spy? Would you harbor a run-away woman, or child, a poet, a prophet, a king? Would you harbor an exile, or a refugee, a person living with AIDS? Would you harbor a Tubman, a Garrett, a Truth, a fugitive or a slave? Would you harbor a Haitian, Korean or Czech, a lesbian or a gay? Would you harbor me? Would I harbor you?” asked the lyricist Ysaye Barnwell.

Most of us find it difficult to imagine what we would do, where we would run in search of a haven, sustenance, security and protection for our children, other loved ones, ourselves—and hopefully, we never will. 

Yet, it seems every generation is forced to bear witness to those who are. It is during such moments that each of us has a choice—to sit silent and wait for others to respond to the urgent needs of the moment, or to respond in alignment with our values, in accordance with our beliefs, regardless of politics.

I say this because America prides itself on being a Christian nation that supports religious freedom. We are taught faith supersedes politics, and most understand there are core values fundamental to all the world’s great religions, the same values as taught by Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Confucius, all indigenous cultures and others. Regardless of what system of faith one adheres to, it is the one fundamental principal enshrined in all great teachings, whether called the Golden Rule or the Law of Reciprocity, and considered the cornerstone of religious understanding—“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” 

Last week we learned that no less than 230 asylum seekers were unceremoniously dropped off in San Bernardino and according to immigration advocates in Riverside, at least 4,000 immigrants were assisted since October 2018. Regardless of the spin of the current administration many of these immigrants are asylum seekers—escaping threats and/or experiences of crime, extortion, rape and violence in Central America. 

Without plan or forethought, the Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, John P. Sanders has decided to transport hundreds of families by bus and plane from over-crowded processing facilities to locations across the country.

These men, women, and young children are being delivered to communities with no resources and little, if any knowledge of the area. In response, local organizations like Giving Children Hope (GCH), the Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) and others are working to provide basic needs such as shoes, bedding, personal hygiene products, diapers, over the counter medicine, etc. in addition to hotel rooms, hot meals, transportation and other services. 

I ask my neighbors whether we, as members of this community, are willing to do what we can to help prepare a place for these fleeing people who are being criminalized and marginalized by the policies of the current administration. 

Yes, they are strangers in a foreign land, but I must ask again, what if they were not strangers…what if it were any one of us . . . our children. . . our loved ones? Would you harbor me? Would I harbor you? The Reverend Kierstin Homblette once asked, “Would you harbor a young, poor, middle eastern, Jewish couple? Would you harbor a woman about to give birth to a baby, claiming he was the immaculately conceived son of God?”

There is so much that can be done to help prepare a place in the inland region for these asylum seekers if each of us does what we can to help make a difference for them. 

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.    

To learn more about how you can help visit the Inland Congregations United for Change www.icucpico.com  or call (909) 383-1134, and Giving Children Hope www.givingchildrenhope.org, call (714) 523-4454 or email info@gchope.org.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.