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

our homes and hearts
to all those displaced

Shut the door on
monstrous men.

the ignorant give free rein to barbarism.

Remaining oblivious leaves us in the wrong

A crisis once distant now bleeds upon our

These migrants share the blood of our

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

the people

fear itself
the home of the brave.

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