Xenophobia Is No Solution To The Nation's Problems

After the mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, just about every Republican presidential candidate and governor went on record refusing to accept any Syrian refugees into the United States. But President Obama has said that the United States will accept only 10,000 of the refugees from Syria and the Middle East. So far, Germany has accepted more than ten times that number. Gaining asylum in the United States as a refugee is not easy. There is a very long process to screen those seeking refugee status in the United States. In fact, our borders are far more secure than the borders in Europe.

In addition, those admitted to the United States as refugees often assimilate very quickly into the United States and within a short time become productive citizens. Forty years ago, I became acquainted with a Vietnamese refugee family who had settled into northern Ohio with the support of a local church. The father was an engineer in South Vietnam and he and his family were able to escape when Saigon fell in April 1975. He was fluent in English, French, and Vietnamese, but his wife was not. They had two children.

Within a short time, the mother was enrolled in the adult education program to learn English and the children were enrolled in the local schools. The father was able to find employment, but at a low wage, so the family still needed assistance. However, within a short time, the father had started a business with the mother working in the business. After a few years, the family was able to afford to buy a nice house in a suburban neighborhood and the business was thriving. Should have we turned away this family back in 1975?

Very often refugees and immigrants are more likely to start their own businesses or buy an existing business. As part of the local business community, they want to be a part of their neighborhood. The weekend before Christmas, I was at a local restaurant on the West Side that is owned by a Middle Eastern family who happens to be Moslem. They had a “breakfast with Santa” for the children in the neighborhood and gave those children toys for Christmas. Is this the kind of person that we want to keep out of the country?

The United States faces a far greater risk of a terrorist attack from one of our own than any refugee or recent immigrant. Remember that besides the September 11, 2001 attacks, the greatest terrorist attack in the United States was the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 by a young man who had served in the Army and was aligned with right-wing militia groups. That bombing killed 168 innocent lives, including around 20 children in the day care center.

The San Bernardino shooter was a man in his 40s who was born in the United States and had lived here all his life. He worked with those who were shot in his rampage and lived in the local community. His wife was a recent immigrant who arrived on a spousal visa. Spousal visas also have a long process of vetting. There was nothing in either person’s background that would raise any alarm. This couple also had a baby girl that they abandoned when they went on their rampage.

Granted, the United States needs to do a more thorough process of screening immigrants and visitors to this country. We also need to be more vigilant about suspected suspicious activity involving terrorism. But in the process, the United States cannot become a police state nor should we turn our backs on refugees escaping war or terrorism

President Obama was correct when he said in reaction to those who want to ban entry into the United States of Moslems or by refusing to accept any Syrian refugees that is “not who we are” and that the United States “is better than that.” Since the arrival of the colonists in Virginia and Massachusetts, the United States is a nation of immigrants and refugees. Most of us have an ancestor who is either an immigrant or a refugee from another country who came to the United States for a better life. We must not give in to fear and hatred. As President Obama said, “it’s not who we are as Americans.”

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 9:53 PM, 02.02.2016