In the days since Donald Trump signed an executive order temporary banning refugees from entering the country, a lot of people have spoken out against it. Protests have broken out in airports across the country, and many celebrities have already publicly opposed the decision, using their social media accounts to share their thoughts and stories. Now, another star is fighting against the ban, but for her, it's a little different. On Friday, Angelina Jolie published an op-ed about the refugee ban for the New York Times and it's an issue that's very personal for her.
In the article, Jolie brings up a lot of the same points that have been argued about the ban since it was signed into action last week — that refugees are people trying to escape terrorism, not commit it, and that America was built on giving shelter to people from all over the world who have nowhere else to go. Why wouldn't we, as a country, want to continue this tradition and help these people out? But some of what she's saying is personal to her, her family, and her career and that definitely gives her a unique perspective on the situation, especially where her children are concerned.
Of her six children, three were adopted from countries that suffer from poverty. After adopting her first son, Maddox, from Cambodia, Jolie created the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation to help those in need who live in the country. According to the New York Daily News, the foundation has also funded schools and clinics in Ethiopia (where daughter Zahara is from), Kenya, and Afghanistan. Jolie isn't just preaching that people should get involved in offering assistance to the refugees; she has experience actually doing it herself.
As the mother of six children, who were all born in foreign lands and are proud American citizens, I very much want our country to be safe for them, and all our nation’s children. But I also want to know that refugee children who qualify for asylum will always have a chance to plead their case to a compassionate America. And that we can manage our security without writing off citizens of entire countries — even babies — as unsafe to visit our country by virtue of geography or religion.
And it's not just her children who have made the refugee ban personal to Jolie. Since 2012, Jolie has worked as a Special Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and as recently as last October, she traveled to Jordan to visit with Syrian refugees there. It shouldn't take meeting people in these heartbreaking, life-threatening conditions to want to help them escape danger, but the fact that Jolie has gives her an understanding of how important it is to give them a place where they can be safe.
I have visited countless camps and cities where hundreds of thousands of refugees are barely surviving and every family has suffered. When the United Nations Refugee Agency identifies those among them who are most in need of protection, we can be sure that they deserve the safety, shelter and fresh start that countries like ours can offer.
Through Jolie sharing her perspective, it is possible that more people will understand how important it is to offer our resources to refugees, especially since they pose virtually no danger to the United States. According to CNN, no refugee accepted into the U.S. has committed an act of terror since the Refugee Act of 1980. Why wouldn't we want to help them?
Jolie ends her op-ed with one final, important message:
We all want to keep our country safe. So we must look to the sources of the terrorist threat — to the conflicts that give space and oxygen to groups like the Islamic State, and the despair and lawlessness on which they feed. We have to make common cause with people of all faiths and backgrounds fighting the same threat and seeking the same security. This is where I would hope any president of our great nation would lead on behalf of all Americans.
Hopefully, her words will help change the minds of people who are on the fence about the refugee ban. Her message is so important, especially since she has so much personal experience behind it.