Terrorists Were My Neighbors But I Don't Want To Ban Muslims

FILE - This undated file photo released by the FBI on April 19, 2013 shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted last year and
FILE - This undated file photo released by the FBI on April 19, 2013 shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted last year and sentenced to die for his role in an attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev gave a courtroom apology when he was sentenced to death in the deadly 2013 attack, but just after he was captured, he showed “the opposite of remorse,” prosecutors said in court documents released Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (FBI via AP, File)

Let us consider how a strong immigration and refugee policy will strengthen America and prevent terror attacks on U.S. soil. First, we need to answer the fundamental question of why do we Americans deserve to be here when others do not? Personally, I believe that it's only by the grace of God that I was born in a country that is relatively safe and prosperous. Had I been born in a war zone or in a country of abject poverty, I'm guessing I'd try to get out of there. We should each ask ourselves what we would do if we were ever in that circumstance? Would we, too, try to leave, and find a better life? Those that do leave risk everything, and leave the only life and language they know to find safety and security somewhere else. Would I ever have the courage to do that?

I'm blessed to have coworkers from all over the world of all races and religions: Haiti, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Eastern Europe. Muslim, Jain, Jewish, Christian. This enriches my life greatly. When I treat sick patients I see them as human beings. I don't ask their legal status. If they need care, I give it. If I treat a Syrian refugee I'm especially grateful for the opportunity. I treat homeless men who live under a large bridge, many of whom are immigrants. Some days I speak Spanish all day long. There but for the grace of God go I. What would it be like to live under that bridge, in the rain and the snow, when it's ten degrees outside? I often ponder that.

Nearly all of the perpetrators of the biggest terror attacks and mass shootings in the US were born here or came here as children. No policy on immigration would prevent attacks by such people. Think of the most recent mass terror attacks: only San Bernardino involved a recent immigrant, the wife of the duo. Dylan Roof in Charleston was an American Christian neo-Nazi.

The Boston marathon bombers lived near me. The younger one, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, used to party in a basement on my block. They went to my kids' high school. By all accounts, they were normal kids at the time. Dzhokhar was friends with several of my friends' kids. My son's teacher was injured in that bombing. The corner where they murdered the cop was a few blocks from my son's middle school. These events impacted me personally, and yet I am not in constant fear of terrorists. I do not want to build a wall, or ban all Muslims from the US, or deport all illegal aliens.

I am not afraid because you can't live your life in fear. Building walls won't stop it. Banning Muslims won't stop it. Turning our backs on refugees won't stop it. Deporting illegal immigrants won't stop it. None of these things would have stopped the marathon bombing or any of the recent terror attacks, not Orlando, not the Chelsea bombs, not Charleston, and possibly not even San Bernardino. You just have to live your life with kindness and compassion. Kindness and compassion will always trump fear and hatred.