On Immigration (and Gaza)

Here are my lightly edited public comments from the Broomfield City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Good evening, everyone – my name is Marrton Dormish. I live in the Birch neighborhood and serve as a local minister through my non-profit advocacy project, Everyday Epics. I’d like to echo the support of my neighbors [who already spoke] for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

In light of recent events and pronouncements out of Denver, Lakewood and elsewhere, I’d like to speak briefly tonight on immigration. Although a lot has been said lately about keeping certain people out of our communities,   I would like to recall our attention to a crucial aspect of the world’s great faith traditions, including mine. That is, the practice of welcoming the stranger, recognizing their essential humanity and making room for them in the proverbial Inn.

Sadly, throughout our history, we have all too often ignored these better angels of our nature, and instead built an economy on slave labor, forcibly displaced many hundreds of Indigenous nations and created vast wealth from the entitlement of their land. 

Having used disease, broken treaties and military conquest to settle and colonize the land of others, our brand of “civilization” has been characterized by widespread suspicion of immigrants and discriminatory policies and practices directed against successive waves of immigrant-newcomers — including Quakers, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, as well as people from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Germany, China, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, and most recently people from Afghanistan, the Ukraine, Mauritania and Venezuela. What’s more, our foreign policies have contributed and continue to contribute to the economic and political instability driving people to our shores and borders.

Here in Broomfield, the insidious and dehumanizing “nativist” ego has taken several racist and classist forms. In the mid-20th century, for example, the local Chamber of Commerce advertised Broomfield as “100% white.” And at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st, civic leaders here intentionally “zoned for affluence.”

As someone who attempts to follow God in the way of Jesus, I would remind us all that the Holy Family, having escaped the murderous intentions of King Herod were themselves immigrant-newcomers in Egypt for a time.

Welcoming “the stranger” may require planning and it may mean re-envisioning our collective priorities, but excluding those we are tempted to see as “the Other” in order to hoard the benefits of our community for ourselves is not the way. Each and every immigrant-newcomer is made in the image of God and should be treated as such, and their impending arrival prepared for and held sacred,  not least because every one of us, with the exception of people Indigenous to this land, also have an immigrant-newcomer story in our family tree.

Thank you all for your time and consideration.

Avatar photo

Written by 

Leave a Comment?