Meet my dad: The Republican who's hosting Muslim refugees

Rich McKinless with Rahim and Rayhanna Ibrahimi, and their three children, Layma, Hamza and Hasib Rich McKinless with Rahim and Rayhanna Ibrahimi and their three children, Layma, Hamza and Hasib

Before thousands flocked to Dulles and J.F.K. and O’Hare with shouts of “Let them in”; before the executive order barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries; before Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican nomination and then presidency promising to keep out terrorists by stemming the “tremendous flow” of refugees—Rahim, Rayhanna and their three young children arrived at my parents’ suburban Virginia home.

My mom had spent the week before researching Afghani customs on the U.S. State Department’s website. They both had called me on speaker phone asking how to pronounce the traditional Muslim greeting, as-salamu alaykum, peace be upon you—my one semester of Arabic finally paying off! It was Easter weekend, and my dad worried if they needed to tip-toe around their Christianity, remove the bacon from the fridge, hide extra chocolate-filled eggs for the kids.

My parents are no bleeding-heart liberals. You will not find them protesting at Dulles. They did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. But they are Christians, and they love the United States. And for them, that has always meant welcoming the lonely, the homeless, the foreigner. I can scarcely remember a time growing up when we did not have a cousin or a friend of a friend or a complete stranger living in the guest room.

Rahim, Rayhanna, Hasib, Layma and Hamsa preferred to stick together in that guest room, though by the time they came my parents were empty-nesters with five rooms to spare. And the five of them could have stayed for the next five months, as far as Kathy and Rich were concerned. But, as my dad says, “Immigrants are the last ones most of us know who are looking for a handout from anyone.” Within a few weeks, Rahim, who had earned himself a spot on the Taliban hit list by working with the U.S. government to clear I.E.D.’s, had an apartment, a car and a job—inspecting food trays at Dulles.

“I'm not one that dismisses the fears of my fellow countrymen,” my dad told me when I asked why he decided to welcome the Ibrahimis into his home. But closing our doors to migrants and refugees is not the answer. “We need more Muslims in our country,” he said, “who can be the examples that we can all look to and point to.

“That's an obligation both on us Christians and those of other faiths: to look for those examples, welcome those who love America and what we're about. And those examples are countless.”

Vincent Gaglione
4 months 3 weeks ago

Your parents are emblematic of two facts….they understand the obligation of Catholics to welcome strangers as is directed by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and they know that the vetting of refugees by the previous USA administration is already “extreme” and sufficient to protect the nation’s security. The fact, as well, that your dad is Republican proves that party affiliation is irrelevant to the recognition of and action upon truth.

sabrina morris
3 months 1 week ago

I never believed in spell casting but After 4 years of dating my hobby, he left me because I lost my womb . I felt like my life has come to an end, I almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to the spell caster called Dr Malawi whom i met online after my friend Lucy told me about how he helped her. She testified about how Dr Malawi brought back her Ex in less than 2 days and reversed the effect of her lost womb, and at the end of her testimony she dropped Dr Malawi's email address.: [email protected], I decided to give Dr Malawi a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problems to him. In just 2 days, my Hubby came begging. We resolved our issues, and we are even happier than before, am pregnant now to God be the glory. Dr Malawi is really a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful woman... Come to think of it I didn't pay much and all I have to do is send him My details which he used in casting the spell. Even my pastor said that God works mysteriously, that some men are used by God to help others. If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems for you. Contact Dr Malawi anytime, he is the answer to your problems. Here's him contact ([email protected])

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ chief financial adviser and Australia's most senior Catholic, is the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal.
Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese who was brutally murdered in 1981 in the Guatemalan village where he ministered to the poor, is shown baptizing a child in this undated photo. (CNS) 
Before Father Rother died for his people, he had farmed with them, listened to them and spoken of God to them.
Terrance KleinJune 28, 2017
Pope Francis greets young refugees during a conference on families and adolescent education at Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran on June 19. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
“This is a pretty broad exception to the ban,” David Robinson says, “and it does allow for legitimate entry into the United States for people who can pass the screening process, which is what we want.”
Kevin ClarkeJune 28, 2017
The texture and variety of Stevens's new album creates liminal spaces between the sacred and the profane.