As anti-immigrant feeling sweeps through America, targeting Syrian refugees among others, it is easy for many Americans to forget that this country was founded by immigrants seeing to escape oppression and persecution, and that so many of our own families came here for the same reason. In many respects, the story of the Syrian refugees who are fleeing war, dictatorship and religious persecution in their country is our story too.

But while this point may be lost on many Americans who have been exposed to right wing propaganda demonizing these refugees as potential "terrorists" or "burdens" on our social services, an Austrian Jewish folk singer whose father was a refugee from the Nazis who killed half of his family, is now helping Syrian refugees to reach safety in Germany in memory of Holocaust victims.

See: Huffington Post: For A Jewish Austrian Folk Singer, Helping Refugees Is Personal. (September 25)

Huffington Post quotes Hans Breuer, who also works as a shepherd, as describing why he wants to help the Syrian refugees"

"'My father was a refugee and half of his family was killed in the Nazi time, so how can I resist helping these people?"

The story continues:

"His [Breuer's] father escaped to London just as the borders were closing. After the war, he returned to his native Austria, where he met Breuer's mother, a non-Jewish anti-fascist activist who had been tortured by the Gestapo for resisting the Nazis...

The novelty of a Jewish Austrian man helping mostly Arab refugees is not without its poetic moments. Earlier this month, Breuer picked up a family of Syrian-Palestinian refugees who had fled the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria.

Breuer and the family can be seen singing the chorus of the Yiddish song: 'Oyfn Veg Shteyt A Boym' ('By The Road Stands A Tree')..."

Huffpost quotes Breuer as describing another encounter with Syrian-Palestinian refugees in one of Hungary's notorious refugee camps:

"They said they came from Syria, and then the mother said from Palestine too - and I said I am a Jew, and we make a Jewish-Palestinian handshake...This was a moment where humanity was breaking through."​

This might also be a good time for humanity to break through with regard to letting many more Syrian refugees into the United States, instead of trying to stigmatize them as "terrorists" and "welfare takers" for purely political motives.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been helping mainly business and professional immigrants obtain work visas, green cards and US citizenship.

Roger's email address is