My husband was a refugee. His family fled Yugoslavia ahead of the advance of the Russian front during World War II. After years in refugee camps in Austria, the family spread to three continents and built new lives as productive citizens.
As is the story of so many people displaced by war, famine, and disaster, these refugees were industrious, hard-working, and creative, making their way with the support of welcoming communities in the U.S., Canada, Norway, Germany, Australia, and Brazil.
As a college professor, I worked with many students who came to the U.S. as refugees, many from incredibly dangerous places. Some of my most ambitious students were Somali refugees whose families had suffered great loss and hardship before arriving here. They learned English quickly and were in a hurry to take their places in careers, often in the helping professions or in business.
Communities which have welcomed refugees have found them to be an important source of new energy, as the refugees have played vital roles in business, the labor force, and civic affairs. Our state and our country have been better off because of their drive to succeed.
We are now faced with the challenge of whether we will continue to welcome this source of new energy in our communities. Along with severely limiting the number of refugees this country accepts each year, the administration of President Donald Trump is now requiring each county to decide whether to take refugees.
The St. Louis County Board is expected to decide Tuesday whether to welcome refugee settlement in our county. Please tell your commissioner to do the right thing and vote to open our hearts to those who have waited years to find safe sanctuary. Go to stlouiscountymn.gov/our-county/board-of-commissioners/members to find contact information.