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Forum, Sept. 8: Is the President Wrong on This?


Thursday, September 07, 2017
Is the President Wrong on This?

I write this as an immigrant from almost 50 years ago who decided to stay because I love this country.  My understanding is that it is the job of the legislative branch to make laws, and of the executive branch to execute these laws.  Our previous president, along with millions of other citizens, felt there were aspects of our immigration law as pertained to “Dreamers” that were not humane, so he instructed the executive branch to not enforce these laws, even though they had been passed by Congress.

Our current president, many of whose actions I abhor, has determined that it should not fall on the whim of one person, nor is it legal for him, to determine which laws should be enforced and which should not, so he is instructing the executive branch to enforce existing immigration law. And he is giving Congress six months to change the law, if Congress thinks this is best for the country. The legislature legislates and the executive executes.  Is that bad?

John M. Roy

Vershire

The Cruelest Stroke to Dreamers

Nature has dealt a bitter blow to the residents of Houston, but the cruelest stroke of all, directed at the most vulnerable of the flood victims, is the action of Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton, who is leading the effort of 10 states to abolish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  

 As an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service responding to the influx of 30,000 displaced people into San Antonio following Hurricane Katrina, I witnessed the trauma of families torn apart by a hurricane. I also witnessed the overwhelming support provided by Texans and the gratitude extended to Mexican Army medical teams responding to the needs of their much more affluent northern neighbors. As a witness to this history, I am now incredulous that just when our attention is focused on a natural disaster of historic proportions, the government of Texas and the president of the United States have chosen to add to the misery of the undocumented young people of Houston by declaring that they are not wanted in the U.S. In words directed decades ago at Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who seemingly was cut from the same cloth, “Have you no sense of decency?”

 I urge everyone who would like to assist this most vulnerable group of young people to donate to the Houston Chapter of United We Dream — unitedwedream.org. They are in the best position to help those who will suffer the most.

Dean Seibert

Norwich

Harming America’s Interests

A recent letter to the Valley News titled “The Reckless Trump Administration” listed the many concerning issues the Trump administration is mishandling. The list did not mention what the administration is doing to reduce America’s influence around the world and its ability to promote American interests. Years ago in the corridors of a multilateral meeting, a British delegate remarked, “You Americans always come in espousing high principles and leave taking care of American interests.”

I thought it was a good description of what a positive hegemonic power does. Today, unfortunately, our allies fear they cannot depend on us, and the U.S. is serving as an example of what not to do.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has agreed to reduce the State Deparment’s budget by 30 percent and has crippled the department by not acknowledging the counsel of experienced career foreign and civil service officials who would provide nonpartisan advice. This is tantamount to unilateral disarmament.

We risk permanent harm not only to our country but to the world.

Headlines focus on issues like North Korea, our feud with Russia, the unstable Middle East. None of these issues can be handled by tweets. But there are a myriad of issues that do not generate news stories that affect all of us: the safety and fair treatment of Americans abroad, a level playing field for American investments, cooperation on inhibiting the spread of disease, counternarcotics, nonproliferation and human trafficking, to name a few.

We appear to be living in a country that disdains expertise and chooses to frame all issues in a partisan fashion, but Republicans and Democrats alike benefit from effective diplomacy.

Evangeline Monroe

QuecheeThe writer is a retired foreign service officer.

Wrong School Priorities

I bet I’m opening myself up for criticism and condemnation, but now we need a multimillion dollar track in Hartford? Really? Before that it was an upgrade to the football field, and on and on.

All of this, in a time when academic programs, especially the arts, are experiencing deep cuts? In a time when teacher benefits and salaries are stagnant or dropping?

Sadly, in a country ranked near the bottom of the world in its ability to educate its children, sports appear to be at the top of the list. It’s the one issue where parents show up to poorly attended school board meetings pounding their fists on tables, protesting that their children are being shortchanged.

I’ve attended many school board meetings over the last 35 years, and have yet to see similar levels of concern expressed about sons and daughters who have not learned how to read effectively or who are failing to understand higher-level math. Why are our priorities so misplaced? How did we come to this?

Europe has escaped this absurd problem completely. There are no “school athletics.” These activities are relegated to clubs in their communities. Right now, in our town and all across the country, sports programming reaches into the pockets of our children and robs them of better academic outcomes.

So, how do the best schools in the world like the ones in Norway and Finland outperform everyone else in every verifiable academic measure? Interscholastic sports? That’s a laughable idea.

Let’s face it. America is Sparta, not Athens. It will be a sad day in Sparta when we wake up, cut school sports from the budget and use that colossal savings to improve our schools. To become more like Athens, during the classical period, a shining city on a hill known for mathematics, literature, art, philosophy, science, architecture and higher learning. Well, that would just be sad for us Spartans.

Neil Cronce

White River Junction