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Resettling Refugees In City Fits With Our American Ideals

On its face, the idea of resettling 20 refugee families in Jamestown shouldn’t send everyone into a panic.

We are a country of immigrants whose ancestors at some point left their homelands for either a better life. The fact that our society has done a poor job in recent decades of coming together should not deny those who dream our uniquely American dream a place at our collective table.

Accepting refugees can help begin to rebuild the city’s lagging population and provide workers for a shrinking workforce.

We can see issues with housing, particularly availability of good housing at a low enough price. And there may be issues with availability of health care in an area that is struggling to service its entire population, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. But we agree with Mayor Eddie Sundquist, who said prior to a meeting Thursday that the the issues likely can be overcome if the community comes together.

And therein lies the rub.

It’s sad that organizers of Thursday’s meeting felt it better to keep the meeting quiet than to hold a true community meeting to talk about this issue as a community rather than a meeting of “community decision makers.” And, frankly, we can’t blame the organizers for feeling that way. As a society, as a community, we have struggled to assimilate newcomers for quite some time. These challenges aren’t new.

This may be hard for some of us to believe, but there are people for whom cities like Jamestown — despite its warts and flaws — is their promised land. Jamestown can be the first step for refugees to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a better life for their families.

We are still a land of opportunity despite the issues facing our region, our state and our nation.

Let’s give Sundquist’s idea a chance.

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