Letters to the editor on immigration reform, prison alternative, Zimmerman

07/29/2013 12:00 AM

07/26/2013 5:23 PM

Support humane immigration reform

It is the responsibility of the federal government and the citizens of this country to find humane and just pathways to citizenship that are legal, speedy and not punitive. I believe the House of Representatives has constantly put up roadblocks to economic and reasonable immigration reform.

The last thing we need is a two-tier fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. “Illegal” immigration is down; migrants from Mexico and other locations in Central and South America are returning home because of the difficulties finding jobs. The number of deported “immigrants” is the highest it has been in years.

“Securing the border” is another way of giving the military and U.S. Defense Department a place to go other than Iraq and Afghanistan. “Securing the border” is another way of writing checks to the U.S. defense establishment.

U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and other lawmakers need to help meaningful immigration reform by building bridges, not walls. They need to advocate for immigration policies that are humane, not punitive.



Prison solution

“Official: Kan. prisons at capacity” (July 20 Local & State) reported that our Kansas prisons are full and we may have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build more space.

Here’s an alternative solution: Release all nonviolent offenders into a parole work program that includes a housing component (perhaps barracks, in the style of a community center, where they could grow their own fruits and vegetables, corn or other crops). Some could live with a mentor or even a family member. Each could be assigned a job, so offenders can go to work and earn money. Some will work in the gardens, some in the fields. Some could clean streets, parks or riverbanks. Imagine such a workforce cleaning up after the recent destructive storms, when city officials said they could not afford to help with the cleanup.

If we provide offenders a place to stay, the chance to work again, a chance to earn some money and the opportunity of rejoining society, it would be spending money in a good way. I know it will cost money, but we are at a point where we are going to have to spend millions on this problem anyway.

Properly supported and supervised, this could be a good parole work program for nonviolent offenders – and a positive result for many of our citizens who want to rejoin society.



Good Samaritan?

On July 14 the Gospel passage of the good Samaritan was read at Catholic churches. Homilies followed. That same weekend, a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty.

The good Samaritan saw a man on the side of the road. Even though he was not to interact with the man because of the social mores of the time, he stopped and rendered aid, paid for the man’s expenses and transported him to a place of recovery. He also came back later to see if anything else could be done.

Zimmerman saw a man and viewed him with mistrust. He decided to get out of his car and follow him while carrying a gun. Some sort of confrontation ensued. A man is dead, a life horribly changed.

Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? Just the person sitting next to us in church? Or the homeless drug addict on the side of the road? Or the young man in the parking lot whose appearance makes us uncomfortable? If we are truly a Christian nation, tragedies such as the one in Florida will no longer occur. It is my hope and prayer that this be so.



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