There is one group of Americans who are not descended from immigrants. Native Americans have the exclusive claim of being native to American soil. The rest of us can follow our family tree back to find our own ancestors who were the first generation immigrants in our bloodline.

There is one group of Americans who are not descended from immigrants.  Native Americans have the exclusive claim of being native to American soil.  The rest of us can follow our family tree back to find our own ancestors who were the first generation immigrants in our bloodline. 
How we fifth or seventh generation immigrants feel about those families who are coming after ours may depend in part on our Christian heritage.  Many Christian denominations have joined ecumenical and interfaith partners in affirming support of refugee resettlement. 
Each refugee’s story is unique and often harrowing.  One such story is told by Kao Kalia Yang in her book “The Latehomecomer, A Hmong Family Memoir”.  The Hmong were an ethnic minority, many of whom fought with the U.S. in Laos during the Vietnam War.  Kalia writes, “When the Americans left Laos in 1975, they took the most influential, the biggest believers and fighters for democracy with them, and they left my family and thousands of others behind.  A third of the Hmong died in the war. Another third were slaughtered in its aftermath.”
The Hmong who survived were those who suffered the trauma of being targeted for genocide but escaped to become refugees in Thailand and then immigrants in France, Australia or the United States. 
Kalia’s extended family had been living in the jungles of Laos for three years, staying one step ahead of the Laotian and North Vietnamese soldiers who hunted them.  The day came when escape was no longer possible.  The women and children were forced to surrender.  The Vietnamese held them prisoner waiting for their men to attempt a rescue.  Then they would complete their task of wiping out this Hmong family.
Using grenades that the Americans had abandoned in the jungle, the Yang husbands and fathers managed a daring rescue.  With soldiers in hot pursuit, the men held on to bamboo logs and swam their families across the Mekong River into Thailand.  They were among the last to escape before Thailand closed the border, leaving the remainder of the Hmong to be slaughtered.
The Yang family spent five years in Thai refugee camps before being processed as immigrants to the United States and settled in Minnesota.  The family recognized early that the road to success was through education.  Today author Kao Kalia Yang and many of her cousins are graduates of Minnesota colleges and Universities.  They are among lucky first generation immigrants who had a path to citizenship and cannot be deported.
As the Trump administration is initiating policies that promote closed boarders and stepped up deportations, we can take a step back from the heated political debate, and look at immigration from a different angle.  For those of us who are practicing Christians, what is our particular church’s stand on immigration?
Harriett Olson, United Methodist Women CEO, states, “We have been active in receiving refugee families in our communities and welcoming immigrants to our churches.  Working with immigrant organizations and the United Methodist Church, we advocate for just immigration reform at state and national levels in the United States and globally.”
The National Catholic Register states, “That as a prosperous nation, we should be generous in accepting and welcoming refugees and immigrants, and that proper laws governing the immigration process are legitimate, but should be in service of the common good.”
In 2016 “the Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution affirming and encouraging ministry to refugees during its annual meeting.”
Our religious institutions are taking stands that help refugee and immigrant populations while encouraging sensible immigration reform.  American voters will do well to follow their lead.

Susanna Smith writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.