HuffPost Op-Ed: Do you know a SAINT?
I am heartbroken that President Trump is opening an office today to promote fear, while demonizing and criminalizing immigrant communities.
His Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office will spew propaganda and ‘alternative facts’ by highlighting crimes committed by immigrants, as opposed to equally harmful crimes committed by U.S. citizens. It is a wasteful use of taxpayer resources that will manipulate law enforcement data in an attempt to play on fears and anxieties.
That is why I am countering VOICE with a taskforce grounded in reality and positivity, highlighting the many positive contributions of immigrants within their communities. The Saved by American Immigrants National Taskforce (SAINT) will collect stories of the countless immigrants who are contributing to U.S. society through heroic acts.
The prevailing truth is that immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes than people born in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau records, between 1980 and 2010 male non-citizens, age of 18 to 49, were one-half to one-fifth less likely to be incarcerated for a crime.
Research indicates that immigrant-friendly communities are not only safer, but also more economically vibrant. Immigrant-owned businesses employ ten percent of American workers, and immigrants have founded roughly 25 percent of small businesses in America.
We have all heard it before: we are a nation of immigrants. America called for the tired, poor, and huddled masses, and was answered with the best and brightest from around the world who make our country even greater.
We must celebrate that fact, not fear it.
Immigrants are woven into our American fabric. They are entrepreneurs. They are first-responders. They are caregivers. They are us. And yes, they can be the people who save our lives.
There are so many inspiring stories of immigrant heroes, and we look forward to gathering and sharing them to counter the false disparaging narrative from VOICE. Already immigrant heroes are highlighted in the news every now and then. For example, Antonio Diaz Chacon was doing his laundry when he witnessed a suspect rip a child from a street in Albuquerque, causing him to leap into action and stop the abduction. Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa became a leading brain surgeon after desperately crossing the border then finding his way to Harvard Medical School.
But far too often, the stories of immigrant heroes are drowned out and go largely unnoted. As is the case of Maytham Alshadood, who grew up in Bagdad, Iraq, and moved to the U.S. on a Special Immigrant Visa, graduating with honors from the University of Colorado. Because of his perseverance, Maytham is now a transplant medicine registered nurse, and helps save lives every day he clocks in.
Today, I am calling on you to find the Maythams in your community. I know they are there. Whether they too are employed in a life-saving field, or if circumstances led to their heroism, we all deserve to hear their stories. It is time for Americans, who owe their lives to immigrants who were in the right place at the right time, to speak out to counter the hateful rhetoric of VOICE.
We only hurt ourselves when we fear monger and create monsters that do not exist. Let us lift up those who have moved to the U.S. in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Each and every one of us can understand that desire. After all, the desire for a better life is the foundation on which our nation was built.
Please email your SAINT stories to Rep. Polis at Jared.Polis@mail.house.gov with the subject: I need to report a SAINT.