SUBHEADLINE: Who is an immigrant?


What are we afraid of? What should we do? What is the reality? What has history taught us? Why do we care? Who is an immigrant? The questions are all legitimate and worthy of thoughtful answers.

They require us to seek for answers through reading, listening, and processing together information and advice. We encourage individuals to seek out a forum that allows for discourse in an open and honest way. We are all descendants of immigrants and most of us by circumstances of birth (over which we have no control) have resided in this country longer than others. We can recognize the humanity of each person if we stop to think about our lack of choice of whom we are and where we were born. Most of the reasons our ancestors chose to come to this county are very similar to the reasons the millions who are here undocumented have come.

We are a large populated, organized and structured society now, and laws govern the individuals' entry and exit. The reality is that the admonition we give to individuals to enter legally, is that many have no path to legal status until Congress passed immigration reform legislation. Their determination and need to escape from violence, persecution and poverty is far greater than we in our safe corners of the world can imagine.

So while we can wait for legislation reform, how do we respond in humane and fair ways? Can we be informed enough about our enforcement of current law to intervene to stop bigotry, advocate for their rights and be helpful allies for those affected by discrimination and persecutions? Our laws and actions should be based on common sense, reality and fairness, and reflect the Biblical passages of care for the stranger and vulnerable.

Should you wish to become better informed on the subject, an evening of sharing and learning on this topic is scheduled for 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 23, at the College Avenue Friends Church, 912 N. 'C' St., Oskaloosa. The American Friends Service Committee with Iowa Director Erica Palmer Johnson will facilitate the discussion.

Erma Copinger


SUBHEADLINE: A good experience

My husband and I were treated to a very interesting evening and dinner at New Hope a few weeks ago and were quite surprised at all the wonderful things they are doing there. Blaine and Joan Vos have worked tirelessly to bring about some great opportunities. They have several programs there, including 24/7 dads, Awana of the Fellowship Bible Church meets there one night a week, there is a program for mothers with small children (or expecting) where child care is provided and they are taught about child care, fixing health meals, etc.

New Hope is also registered with the WIC program which allows people to get fresh vegetables, fruits, breads, etc. The communal gardens are starting earlier this year and lasting longer, so there will be more opportunity to get fresh produce. I think they have painted almost every inch of the inside of the building (with lots of help from local churches, William Penn students, and volunteers). The thrift shop is operated almost entirely with volunteers. I do not have room to tell all of the different things going on there, but I do know they need someone to play and teach piano and also someone to help with sewing and crafts. I know that both Blaine and Joan have a real heart for this community and especially the children.

Sabrina DeJong


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