Immigration Order: An opportunity for understanding and unity

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

By Daniel Mueller

For the Herald

Over the past week, it has been impossible to read Facebook or watch the news without seeing demonstrations, stories of affected families, or opinions on the issue of immigration and refugees. This issue certainly garners a lot of emotion, misunderstandings, and division. Seeing all of this has brought out two reactions in myself: frustration over the division this issue has caused and optimism at the opportunity this provides. Immigration and refugee resettlement are areas of fear, unknown and change, which have persisted throughout the history of our nation. After all, the United States was founded as a nation of immigrants escaping economic, religious, political problems or chasing the American dream of greater opportunities. These same reasons for migration continue today as the main causes for most immigrants and refugees to come to America. The greatest change has come in the countries of those migrants moving from primarily European countries to include every nation of the world. The divisions, fears and misunderstandings were present over 100 years ago, when the largest group of immigrants came and Austin was founded, manifesting itself in separate churches for Germans, Irish and Scandinavians. But now Austin has more than 50 nations and dramatically different cultures all calling this city their home. Having so many different cultures, languages and people groups in such a small community can lead to greater distrust, fear, or misunderstandings and that is why I hope this focus on the issue of immigration and refugees can bring unity and understanding.

Many people from Austin’s diverse community pose for a photo before the Fourth of July parade in Austin. Photo provided

Many people from Austin’s diverse community pose for a photo before the Fourth of July parade in Austin. Photo provided

Email newsletter signup

As I talk with people in the community, there is great support for the refugee and immigrant communities, though some fear over jobs, potential crime, immigration status, and differences in culture with questions about a cultural understanding, needs and interaction. I work with the African Asian Refugee Services Agency and with many of the refugee leaders trying to create long term strategies for empowerment, unity, and growth. This has been difficult even within the various groups in the community, divided by history, tribes and language, but education has been the one subject that has brought them together. They want their kids to excel in education and they see the opportunity of education to bring understanding and unity among the many cultures. Youth leaders are working together to create an afterschool program to help fill the parent’s gap in ability to help with homework and to help develop skills and goals for future success. The communities would also love to engage and answer questions to bring greater understanding on both sides. The power of the unknown breeds division, but communication and sharing can bring unity. As a strong community, we can only get stronger by knowing our neighbors and openly sharing our struggles, fears, questions, and lives. As for action, I would welcome and be willing to help facilitate a community meeting. Now is the opportunity to come together, build bonds within our community instead of allowing issues to grow greater divides.
Daniel Mueller has worked as a teacher overseas with a focus on community development and is currently working with the local immigrant and refugee communities. Feel free to email him at