It seems like an easy question: Should our state, our county, our city accept refugees? Refugees arrive in this county legally. They come from regions and nations where they are unsafe. They go through a rigorous vetting process before being admitted to our nation.
Yet in this age of polarizing politics and snappy sound bites, the nuances of refugee relocation and how it has absolutely nothing to do with “the wall” and illegal immigration are easily lost.
So, unfortunately, it takes some political courage to stand up and say, We’ll take refugees.
Last week, it was announced that Gov. Pete Ricketts would join the majority of governors, showing that courage and accepting refugees into their states. Earlier, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert had indicated their cities would welcome refugees. But without a public statement from a governor, nothing a mayor or a county commission decided would matter, as dictated by the Trump administration policy.
Ricketts gave his consent — along with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds — in a letter that thanked Trump for creating a more robust vetting process for refugees.
At this point, a number of governors have remained silent on the issue of refugee relocation. Some of them are likely to allow it. Others may quietly let the clock run out. Without voicing consent, states will have indicated they are not willing to accept refugees. So far, none has gone on the record stating openly that they will not accept them.
The arguments for taking in refugees are compelling:
n With historically low unemployment in many communities — something Trump has been quick to tout — we simply need more people to fill vacant jobs.
n Refugees bring unique perspectives, cultural diversity and talents that can enrich us all. Lincoln has seen this firsthand.
n And, finally, for those trying to live their faith, the charity associated with helping individuals and families — always carefully screened — find a new and safer life amid our free nation is a commandment. We are asked to love our neighbor — and that’s not just the person in the house, the state or even the country next door.
Immigration policy remains contentious. The magnitude of the threats of illegal immigration — both socially and economically — are bitterly contested.
But this issue — inviting refugees who have gone through extensive legal reviews to become part of our communities — is an easy one. And we’re grateful that Nebraska and Lincoln are on the right side of it.
Lincoln Journal Star