Forum, Aug. 17: We need rational laws, not walls in our mind

Published: 8/16/2019 10:00:21 PM
Modified: 8/16/2019 10:00:09 PM
We need rational laws, not walls in our mind

As we have heard, words matter. Words can hurt and incite violence and hate. What is the difference between an “illegal immigrant,” an undocumented immigrant, or simply an “illegal”? Entering the country once without permission is a misdemeanor. So are many traffic violations. But people who run red lights are not called “illegals.”

Most people who are in this country without permission are not criminals or invaders. Most are hard-working people who take care not to break our laws, and their labor helps our economy grow.

Recently, a senior Homeland Security official insisted we should call such people “illegal” and not refer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s recent roundup of workers in Mississippi as “raids” but “law enforcement actions.” He was trying to frame how we think about immigration. The child in Mississippi sobbing that her father was not a criminal had succumbed to the administration’s framing.

Some people say they do not oppose legal immigration and assert that their ancestors immigrated legally. But if their family entered before 1920, they came before the Emergency Quota Act that restricted the number and origin of immigrants. Moreover, this administration seeks to restrict legal immigration at a time when we do not have an economically healthy population replacement rate.

We have a right to restrict immigration and control our borders, but it should be done rationally, effectively and in a way consistent with our values and economic needs. Building a wall along the Rio Grande is neither rational nor an effective way to reduce the number of undocumented foreigners.

If we want to reduce the number of undocumented foreigners, we should insist on laws tailored to our economic needs so that employers have access to labor and foreigners willing to work can do so legally. Immigration reform should begin by addressing temporary workers. We should construct rational immigration laws, not physical walls or walls in our minds.



If we do nothing, the killing will continue

Here we are again, the hand wringing, the thoughts and prayers, the calls for sensible reform that will lead to the saving of lives. We have been bombarded with news coverage of the horrific events of the last two weeks.

In the article on the planned vigil in Hanover (“Vigil to honor gun violence victims,” Aug. 9), I was struck by the statement of the secretary of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition: “We should be careful not to start punishing lawful owners of firearms for the few who commit gun tragedies.”

This is a claim we have heard before, that somehow the proposals for reform are a punishment of gun owners. However, I have never heard any explanation of how these measures are a punishment. What is the punishment?

The coalition secretary then goes on to say, “We have to look at society as a whole.” I agree, but any real consideration of society as a whole would support passage of gun reform to promote the safety and well-being of all people, not the “punishment” of innocent Walmart shoppers, moviegoers and schoolchildren and their families. If we as a society choose to do nothing, we can only expect that the killing of innocents will continue.



Brazil’s Bolsonaro and the Amazon

Brazil’s new plans for Amazon destruction are what prompted its abrupt decision not to host world climate negotiations. Now the small island nation of Jose Cuervo has become an international hero for bravely stepping into the breach. Its main proffers are, first, its beach, with cabanas to watch the erosion. Then, diving on reefs newly bleached, the few fish now caught by explosions. But most important for negotiators arriva: unlimited quantities of blue agave tequila.



Consider how we talk to each other; it’s important

I would like to say a word about the way we talk to each other.

The history of the world is words, not weapons.

Speak to someone else the way you would want them to speak to you.

You may speak to groups, or at forums.

One person hears your words.

Consider them.

It’s hard.

If it were easy, everybody would do it.



Thanks for making improvements to Rail Trail possible

The two new bridges on the Northern Rail Trail — on Bank Street Extension in Lebanon and at the Baltic Mill in Enfield — are thanks to a major donation arranged by an area trail user. The bridge reconstructions are copies of the design used on the Mascoma River Greenway and were built by the same contractor, All Seasons Construction of Springfield, Vt.

In November, the gift will also be used for extensive drainage improvements along the trail as far east as the Enfield/Canaan line. That work was scheduled for last fall but was postponed — first because of early snow and then by a late spring.

We, and trail users, I am sure, are extremely grateful for the gift that has made these needed improvements possible.



The writer chairs Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, Grafton County.

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