116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Children trudging thousands of miles toward the southern U.S. border, desperately hoping for a better life, are not our problem according to Gov. Kim Reynolds. Luckily, for Iowa and the refugees from Vietnam in the 1970’s, Gov. Bob Ray wisely recognized these people would eventually be tremendous assets to Iowa. He was right.
I taught refugee children at McKinley Middle School, and learned how much they and their families would enrich our state and nation. They are now business owners, doctors, teachers, and faithful taxpaying citizens. When I taught English at Kirkwood, I learned how much hunger, exhaustion, and fear a person can endure just to get here.
Few refugees, are “takers.” Professional people get night jobs here stacking shelves or cleaning offices so they can take English classes during the day. One student stood in the back of the room during my 8 a.m. class so he could stay awake after his night shift. These are determined people.
Kids who made it to the U.S. border after the treacherous journey on foot or by freight train are not lazy or weak. They are not criminals. They face uncertainty, loneliness, and fear with amazing strength of character. They are well worth the minimal investment Iowa would make in them.
Iowans are not mean and stingy. We reach out. We help. And the overwhelming gratitude we get for even small gestures of kindness is an enormous payback. Many refugees become amazing Iowans.
Mary L. Magner