Todayâ€™s column in The Morning Call tells the story of a non-profit organization that brings Afghan entrepreneurs to the U.S. for training and mentoring. To become part of the program, one must already have a functioning small business, go through a rigorous interview process, and be willing to work within a business plan and prescribed level of expected outcomes. The goal is to grow the business and provide employment for as many Afghans as possible. â€œMore jobs mean less violenceâ€ is the mantra.
After all the â€œTâ€™sâ€ are crossed and hoops jumped through, the group is brought to the U.S. for immersion in modern business techniques and set up with internships in their chosen fields. By way of disclaimer; I am a member of the Business Council for Peace (Bpeace) and regularly participate in this program. Considering the obstacles that the average Afghan encounters every day, the success rate of the Bpeace program has been nothing short of amazing: Over 1000 jobs have been created to date, which in such a tight knit familial and tribal based society, translates into thousands of people whose lives have been stabilized and improved.
As a country of immigrants, the United States has always been tolerant and welcoming to people who want to come here. I imagine many of us have tales of family members who arrived on U.S. shores under less than ideal conditions. I personally know of two tales of daring do from people who jumped ship and become productive members of our society.
But that was then and this is now: â€œNowâ€ is a post 9-11 world where people from other places must be looked at with suspicion, because they may mean to do us harm. And itâ€™s a place where our southern border is a broken dam over which thousands of people pour and disappear into the landscape.
So when someone comes from a place that has been destroyed by 30 years of war, where hope is a fleeting emotion, and the future is uncertain, and decides to disappear because life here, with us, could be so much better, we no longer have the luxury of welcoming them, or even of rooting for them. Now we live in a world where we must worry about their motivesâ€¦and fear them.
The Statue of Liberty must be weeping.