Keep a wise doorkeeper
at the nation's portals
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-lost, to me,
I lift my lamp beside the gold door!
Those words are from the sonnet "The New Colossus" by American poet Emma Lazarus. They were inscribed in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.
As the nation discusses matters of immigration those words and the history of this nation should always be kept in mind.
In fact, most of us are immigrants or related to immigrants. Even "native Americans" may have immigrated by a land bridge connecting Asia to North America or by raft from Africa to the western hemisphere.
It seems as if many of the arguments around immigration policies are focused on the extremes:
Supporters of blocking all immigration by building walls or otherwise blocking entry to the country represent one extreme.
Opening the borders to any and all with little regard to background or purpose of seeking entry on the other extreme.
As is often the case, the correct solution to America's immigration policy lies between the extremes. We don't need to resurrect some of the sorriest chapters in our nation's history such as the internment camps of World War II or the motto of "The only good (pick your ethnic, racial or religious group of choice) is a dead one."
Locally, we should value the immigration policy that has brought medical professionals to the area from Asia, South America, Canada and probably other parts of the world as well. Many of us literally owe our lives to these people who at one time or another have chosen to live and work among us.
When hearing the immigration talk, too often we only hear about the uneducated poor people struggling to make a living for themselves and their families. We shouldn't forget the wonderful beacon this nation has long held for attracting the best and brightest from abroad as well.
As for the struggling, uneducated poor, it was only a few generations ago that nearly all of us found our families in a similar category. But look at us now. It's a whole different struggle and we're real Americans too.
We must keep the doors open to immigration while keeping an eagle eye on who passes thru. The answer requires an eye on the past to secure a good future for the United States of America.
Everyone wins with
The voices calling for a closer look at local budgets and a reduction in waste and overlap among public services have been heard.
We've said this before, and we're seeing continuing evidence that the message is getting through.
A good example was reported in the April 26 Itemizer-Observer under the heading "School budget news is positive."
Reports of the Dallas School District 2006-07 budget told of a good example of giving taxpayers and students both better value for the dollars invested. The budget is overseen by District Superintendent and Budget Officer Christy Perry with lots of help from Business Manager Kathy Hammer and the district staff.
Instead of using Willamette Education Service District funds and personnel to provide some 40 to 60 hours weekly of student counseling services at a cost of $130,000, the Dallas district will be doing as some other districts do and using Polk County Mental Health for such services.
In fact, the $130,000 expense is cut to $120,000 and the availability includes four full-time mental health and behavior specialists working in all Dallas schools. Half the cost will be borne by the county agency and the other half will use WESD funds earmarked for the Dallas district.
There's an added bonus in that the Polk County folks will be working with the school's elementary-level summer programs within the budgeted funding.
Everyone wins with this program. Taxpayers for certain. Students will receive increased attention and help. Teachers will be better able to help students before problems get out of hand.