In the wake of the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, a wave of anti-refugee sentiment crossed the Atlantic, with more than half of U.S. governors calling for the exclusion of Syrian refugees from their states. Poet Jason Defo Fotso, then eighteen years old and a public policy undergraduate at Duke University, believed these maneuvers undermined America’s longstanding commitment to hosting refugees and contradicted the sonnet inscribed 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-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Fotso sought to revive the welcoming spirit with a dual-perspective piece, one that would transform the very words of enmity into empathy.

“Refuge” by Jason Fotso · 2022 Edition


Refuse these refugees.
Too great a cost awaits if we

open
our homes and hearts
to all those displaced

children.
Shut the door on
monstrous men.
Only

the ignorant give free rein to barbarism.

Remaining oblivious leaves us in the wrong

hands.
A crisis once distant now bleeds upon our

homeland.
These migrants share the blood of our

enemies.
Our own
are endangered by
many of those seeking entry…

We have lost sight of
the promise
Lady Liberty casts light on.
In this darkest hour

terror
overcomes
the people
of
power.
The

fear itself
conquers
the home of the brave.


Read from the bottom up, pausing only at the spaces between stanzas.