It’s a sad day when a president of the United States locks the doors to entry of refugees to this country. And it’s mortifying to compare this with the heroic efforts of the Italian Coast Guard, the Greeks and the Germans in helping the thousands of desperate refugees fleeing to Europe. It is hard to imagine circumstances so dire that people would take to unsafe boats with complete strangers, or how a family makes a journey through multiple countries speaking different languages. For the U.S. to refuse aid in light of its actions in the Middle East, military and otherwise, is a cruel mockery of the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Donald Trump has irresponsibly played on understandable fears with regard to terrorism from Al Qaeda and ISIS. Certainly there may be risks in accepting refugees, but risk is part of life, and considering that refugees are disproportionately women and children, and all refugees already undergo a daunting and exhaustive vetting process, this is a risk I am willing to take in the name of simple humanity.

I commend Catholic Charities Maine for their continuing commitment to resettling refugees, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for their opposition to Trump’s order banning refugees, and the many ordinary people who protested at Maine’s airports.

In our present situation with regard to refugees and the state of this country, I am reminded of the words of the sage Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I?”

Philippa Solomon