Sanctuary, the very word makes you feel kind of relaxed and safe. And that’s the whole idea, a place where you might be free from persecution, prosecution, imprisonment, deportation, where you would be safe. Imagine what would our history be like if we had offered one another sanctuary over the years.

Many thousands came here from Western Europe seeking sanctuary. The story has it that the early most Indigenous people here offered sanctuary to those newcomers on their shores. That’s not how history proceeded.

Instead of sanctuary, generation after generation tried to keep those behind them, those different from them out.

But what if we’d welcomed the Irish, the Italians, the Germans? What if we’d welcomed the Chinese, the Japanese, the Jews? What if we’d welcome populations that would’ve enriched this country as those populations have but under duress?

How many languages would we speak, how many cultures would we appreciate, and how much stronger would our working class be? And how much smarter too perhaps. We might have a whole different array of politicians. We might live more comfortably on planet Earth.

It’s worth thinking about.

You can watch The Laura Flanders Show report on “New Yorkers Welcome Migrants: What’s it Take to Make Sanctuary Real? on PBS stations across the nation, or on YouTube, or subscribe to the free podcast. Find out more at