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Immigrant assumptions appear to be wrong

Most readers are probably tired of endless comments on the language the president used in reference to Haiti and African countries, but I have some comments to add that I've not yet heard. Disgusting as the language was, it's really the message that matters. Dressing it up doesn't change the intent, that is, immigrants from poor, black countries cannot make good American citizens. Wrong!

I've spent time in Haiti and found the people to be welcoming, generous and eager to better themselves in spite of few opportunities for even basic education or decent jobs. One of many examples: As part of a group, I visited a small community of one-room homes with one water faucet for the village to share. Most schools are provided by churches or various organizations. They recently had a school for a couple of years, but it was now gone. They had invited us to help them find another sponsor. The town leader met us upon arrival (no phone service) and asked us to wait in the small church building. We watched out the window as the children lined up to bathe at the one faucet. Shortly, they came in, one group at a time -- in clean clothes, with hair combed and shy but big smiles. Some spoke to me in French to show they had been schooled. Creole is the main language, but French is the official one. Needless to say, we found an American sponsor to provide a teacher and a nurse to set up a one-room school in the church.

While in Kansas City, I mentored two of several refugees from Sudan -- often called the "lost boys." During that country's civil war, when they were small children, their huts had been burned, the men killed, the women and most girls sold into slavery in the north. The boys were the fastest runners. After walking across deserts and through jungles for months, many starving to death or being devoured by wild animals, they spent their childhoods in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. There, they learned English and shared books to get a basic education. They were taught that "Education is now your mother and your father." Once in Kansas City, the group of refugees I worked with danced with excitement when another mentor brought them books to study for their GED. After passing that, my two mentees went on to college and eventually earned master's degrees. They became U.S. citizens after five years. They are now back in South Sudan (the world's newest country). One works for the government as a policy adviser, the other as a manager of an oil company. They both sponsor humanitarian causes. Yes, though they now have houses, they willingly "returned to their huts."

What's missing in the discussion about accepting or rejecting immigrants is that the people from poorer and black countries are generally more eager to work hard and gain an education than even those from privileged, white countries. Statistics show more immigrants from Africa hold advanced degrees than native-born Americans.

Barbara Youree


Where are the mature members of Congress?

It somewhat pains me to write this, but then again, I lie a lot. Watching a number of those in Congress argue about what Trump allegedly said in a meeting regarding immigration is like watching kindergarten kids argue. (Sorry, kindergarten kids. I didn't mean to demean you.) So it's no wonder Congress' approval rating is hovering around 11 percent. And these folks are supposed to be intelligent, mature adults! If there is ever a case for term limits, it is now.

Then there are the issues of a sensible imigration policy and an approved budget so the government doesn't shut down. Can we expect Congress to actually come up with solutions to these issues? My money says no. So much for a responsible, accountable, mature representative government.

Pete Rathmell


Commentary on 01/19/2018

Print Headline: Letters to the Editor

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