Letter to the Editor: What I Don’t Understand

It has been heart-wrenching to see all the refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. So far, an estimated 3 million people have left Ukraine and entered Poland and surrounding countries. Many of the European countries have opened up to receive them as they seek safety from the ravages of war.

How is it we can accept refugees from wars in Ukraine and Afghanistan and Iraq and have so little compassion for those fleeing mob violence and anarchy in Central and South America? Is it because we cannot see the borders that the Europeans cross? Is it that the news advertises the violence and degradation waged only by our political enemies? What determines the necessities of giving aid to someone? 

The poverty of Haiti and the damaged infrastructure caused by earthquakes and hurricanes have thrown many into survival of the fittest. Gangs control the everyday struggles those people have. Can you blame them for risking their lives and the lives of their children in an attempt to escape such an existence? 

It’s the same for those in southern Central America and some of the northern South American countries, yet we close our borders and refuse to help with a humanitarian crisis so close to home. We politicize their plight, and by doing so, we give fuel to the human traffickers and those who suppress people in sweatshop conditions because those workers fear deportation. 

As for our own citizens losing jobs to these immigrants, currently we have a labor shortage. If Europe can maneuver to place millions of refugees, why are we so challenged to handle a few hundred thousand people seeking a better life? 

There will always be excuses not to help someone. Can anyone come up with an excuse to help? If we can help Ukraine and Europe, why not some of our closest neighbors? For a country that is supposed to be a “Nation under God,” what do we have to fear?

Jim Stehle

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin