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Everybody Loves Lily

February 10, 2017

Well, you probably do even if you don’t remember her name.  Lily is the AT&T Wireless commercial spokesperson we’ve seen in ad after ad.  She is perky, enthusiastic, nerdy, a hopeless romantic and sometimes a little awkward.  She has done over 40 AT&T commercials. She was originally supposed to do one but people loved it so much that she has gone on and on.  Lily is almost like a member of the family.  She is that sister or cousin that everybody likes.

But do you think you’d like Milana Aleksandrovna Vayntrub?  She and her family fled Uzbekistan hoping to find religious freedom and asylum in America.  It was a long, multi-year process to get here because, contrary to what some believe, it never has been easy to come to this country as a refugee.  The screening always has been pretty intense.  I know because in my missionary days I worked on getting visas for Christians from other countries that wanted to work with us.  Even short-term tourist or religious worker visas took a lot of time and a great deal of screening; residence visas often took years.

I have to wonder if Milana, who you probably have guessed by now is the real person behind Lily, and her family showed up today how many of us would welcome her.   How many of us would view her with hostility and suspicion?

Beyond AT&T commercials, Milana has been active in trying to change the world; to help refugees like herself.  She is part of the “Can’t Do Nothing” movement that has inspired nearly a quarter million people to crusade for the rights of refugees around the world by using those AT&T smartphones to make You Tube videos of themselves helping refugees.  Lily would be proud.

I will let you in on a secret.  Not only is the American immigration process long and arduous, it is humiliating.  It is guilty until proven innocent.  It can be deliberately insulting just to see how you react.  While I have no problem making it more secure, particularly if we can make it more efficient, don’t make the mistake of thinking it is lax now.

As we work to better screen out the few who might do us harm, let’s not forget that there are thousands of Milanas out there too.

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