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Opinion Refugees are critical to our economic and cultural success

At her home in Salt Lake City, Somali refugee Farhia Abdulle shows a picture of her son Mohamed-Hanad Ibrahim, 11, whom she is trying to bring to the United States from Uganda. (Kim Raff/For The Washington Post)

Thank you, people of Utah, for showing us how to welcome refugees/immigrants and how everyone benefits. The Dec. 3 front-page article “ ‘We value these people’ ” detailed the program and the efforts Utah makes to welcome immigrants, and the important role immigrants play in the Utah economy and civic life. The booming Utah economy generates a constant demand for a steady supply of workers, and immigrants help to fill this need. Immigrant workers are trained for good-paying jobs, and they find that Utah values their presence. Oh, and this is a bipartisan effort in this conservative state.

Other than Native Americans, we are here because of an immigrant relative who came to the United States in search of a better life. Despite the constant efforts of anti-immigrant policies and the dehumanizing and immoral separation of families on our southern border, the truth is that refugees are critical to the economic and cultural success of our country.

Again, thanks to Utah for demonstrating a humane and enlightened approach to welcoming and appreciating the stranger.

Mary Alcuin Kelly, Silver Spring

The front-page article ‘We value these people’ ” noted that — contrary to the Trump administration’s attempt to depress refugee resettlement through state or local sign-off — the governor of Utah told the president his state wants more refugees. The article also said that every president from “Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama” worked to strengthen the resettlement program to demonstrate our values and perseverance. I agree with this conclusion, as I led the American program during the Carter and Reagan administrations, when the resettlement program was officially created in the Refugee Act of 1980.

However, I must point out that the article overlooked the creative work of presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, work that led our country to bring in 255,000 persecuted victims after the Vietnam War. They were legally admitted using the attorney general’s “parole authority,” which was the only option before the enactment of the Refugee Act. Their courageous decisions in some of our country’s darkest times must not be forgotten.

James N. Purcell Jr., Columbia

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