Letter to the Editor

Write laws providing pathway to full legal status

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

This letter was written on our national holiday to remember Dr. Martin Luther King and the progress we have made in the areas of civil and human rights. A day when our headlines are filled with questions about the racist attitudes and words that have originated in the White House. We do need immigration reform and it needs to be thoughtfully and carefully crafted legislation. Our country is built on immigration and such reform needs expert input, bipartisan support and citizen involvement. Such an undertaking will take time.

DACA and TPS recipients do not have the luxury of time to wait for this needed reform. The executive branch has taken action to put hundreds of thousands of individuals at risk of deportation. There are legislative actions that can be taken quickly to address the situation that recipients of TPS and DACA face. Passing legislation to regularize their status makes good sense. It makes good economic sense since, for example, TPS recipients from El Salvador 25 years and over are 95 percent employed, they add $3 billion to our GDP annually, 50 percent own their homes and they are parents to more than 192,000 American citizen children. There are ways to vet these TPS and DACA recipients to meet US visa and residency requirements and to bring them into a regular status that would allow them to gain legal residency status,

I was the director of Save the Children in El Salvador following the earthquake of 2001. I have also worked in East African and other South and Central American countries. The Presidentsí comments about countries outside the United States are embarrassing and incorrect. I am also the great-granddaughter of Swedish-Norwegian immigrants to Nebraska. My great grandmother left her home in Sweden because she could never own land to start her own farm. In the 1880ís she proudly stood in front of her sod home in Nebraska and proclaimed herself queen of all she could see. She did not come from a garden spot, but from a land controlled by the rich land-owning nobility where she had no future. When my grandfather went back to Sweden to visit his cousins, he provided money to them to put in their first inside bathroom! This was in the 1960ís. Sweden and Norway have come a long way since my family left and the progressive politics and social investment in these countries have been the motors if this change.

Immigration reform should not be conducted as a transactional bargain with the White House. Such an approach cheapens our history and dehumanizes immigrants. Our continent was home to many native peoples but the immigrant population swelled as demographic pressure pushed us across a continent. We are now a country built on immigration and innovation. Our own statue of liberty says it best, Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Letís use that lamp by the golden door as a light of knowledge and experience to write legislation to welcome the TPS and DREAMER recipients into full legal status.

Jayne Lyons,

McCook, Neb.

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