Samira Page, founder of Gateway of Grace, a nonprofit in Dallas, Texas, that serves refugees, works to help people assimilate, find employment and secure affordable housing after they come to America.
But Page, who has made quite a name for herself in Dallas’ nonprofit world, also has a story of her own: she, too, was once a Muslim refugee who fled to America from her native Iran and later converted to the Christian faith.
Considering her background and current work, Faithwire asked Page to explain what she believes many Americans get wrong when it comes to refugees and the policies governing how people and families enter the U.S. to seek asylum.
For Page, many of the myths and misconceptions are based on mere misunderstandings.
“[Critics] confuse refugees and illegal immigrants. They assume that refugees leave their country because they want a better life, so they assume they are economic immigrants,” she said. “They don’t understand the circumstances … and they assume that all refugees are Muslim.”
And it doesn’t end there, as Page said that many also wrongly assume that all Muslim refugees “are terrorists or don’t like the U.S.” This, too, she said is absolutely incorrect.
Page discussed how she believes Americans and Christians, in particular, should balance their fears of extremism with compassion for refugees coming to America for a better life, especially in light of all that is happening in the Middle East. That process, she said, starts with acknowledging the reality that terrorism is truly an issue of concern.
While Page said it’s possible that a terrorist could one day come into America with ill intentions, so far she believes that the refugee program “has been extremely successful.” She also posits that too many people are getting their news only from liberal or conservative sources and that the “full picture” isn’t being given to them.
In the end, Page said that, regardless of the risks, Christians are called to share the gospel with refugees.
“Another part is having a holistic understanding of the scriptures, because you can use scripture and justify anything,” Page said. “With all the reality that we’re facing, we still have to be obedient — even that one terrorist, if, and that’s a big ‘if’ — if he came, it’s our responsibility to reach out to them and share the gospel with them. Christ died for everyone.”
Read more about Page’s own journey to America here.