Home » Letters: Us Needs to Extend Visa Program and Offer a Path of Citizenship to Ukrainian Refugees

Letters: Us Needs to Extend Visa Program and Offer a Path of Citizenship to Ukrainian Refugees

We are hearing much in the news about weapons being sent to the war in Ukraine. What is absent from the reports are the tens of thousands of refugees who have entered the U.S. on a temporary two-year visa. Many of the original refugees are in the last year of their visas. They cannot reapply for a new visa unless legislation is passed extending the program.

I am working with a young family, two sisters and a 2-year-old child. The uncertainty of immigration status adds unnecessary stress to families living with constant stress. Most have left loved ones behind. They live a life of constant worry.

Let’s encourage our legislators to extend Uniting for Ukraine. But equally important: The U.S. should offer a path to citizenship. So many cities in Ukraine have been wiped off the map. Infrastructure for trying to lead a normal life is absent. It will be a very long time before Ukrainian refugees have a country to return to.

We as a nation should consider a path to citizenship for these refugees, who are all attempting to rebuild a life here.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I know the family I am helping is yearning to breathe free. Becoming U.S. citizens is their dream. Please help their dream and the dreams of all the other refugees become true.

Do not leave them in immigrant limbo.

Continue the aid for Ukraine

Foreign aid for Ukraine should continue for several compelling reasons. First, Ukraine has been facing significant challenges, including the ongoing conflict, political instability and economic hardships. Foreign aid plays a crucial role in supporting Ukraine’s efforts to stabilize its economy, enhance democratic governance and strengthen its institutions.

Second, continued foreign assistance can help Ukraine in its quest for regional security and peace. By providing resources for defense and military reforms, foreign aid contributes to the country’s ability to defend itself against external threats and maintain stability. Moreover, ongoing aid can also assist in the resolution of the conflict with Russia, facilitating peace negotiations and supporting humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the affected populations.

Lastly, supporting Ukraine through foreign aid demonstrates solidarity and fosters positive diplomatic relations. By assisting Ukraine, the international community reaffirms its commitment to democratic values, human rights and the rule of law. It also helps counterbalance undue influence from other actors and promotes stability in the broader European context.

Sustaining foreign aid for Ukraine is not only in the best interest of the country, but it also benefits the international community as a whole.

Right relationships, culture

One thing not being discussed in the Northwestern University situation is that sports teams, organizations, schools and businesses all have people who are leaders, with or without the title. Critically important to this situation is that Northwestern football’s team captains and other team leaders didn’t report the hazing to head coach Patrick Fitzgerald. This means his relationship with his players was not as strong as most of us were led to believe.

Schools have teacher leaders, businesses and organizations have team leaders, and sports teams have captains and co-captains. Building a personal relationship and culture where people care about the organization and report violations to the coach, boss or human resources can help fix such a problem.

In business, we want people to report sexual harassment or pay disparities. In schools, we want students to report bullies or guns brought in by other students. On sports teams, we want athletes to report hazing.

Building relationships and setting expectations lead to improved communication of problems that harm organizations.

No-tolerance policy for hazing

I have been a big fan of Northwestern University head football coach Pat Fitzgerald over the years. However, I am not a fan of hazing. In Fitzgerald’s case, I could have settled for a one-year suspension. Termination, not so much.

Hazing is bad, but coaches have done or allowed much worse. I know this suggestion is naive, but here goes. Why don’t more coaches just ban hazing? Inform all team coaches and players that it is a no-tolerance offense. The punishment, if you engage in hazing, is immediate termination or ejection from the team.

That seems like a step in the right direction.

Future of football program

With a glaring misalignment of values between Northwestern University and its athletics, maybe its board of trustees should be discussing if a football program is really necessary.

Questions for Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson’s column “Black elected leaders responsible for what is happening in our community” (July 13) blames the social problems of majority-Black communities on “the oppression by Black elected leaders of Black people.” In a city that has elected only three Black mayors in its entire history (one of whom has been in office for just a few months) and is, by many accounts, the most segregated major city in the country, that is a pretty extreme position.

Wilson does pay lip service to white supremacy and hundreds of years of inequity. “I know that discrimination and systemic racism still exist,” he writes, but he moves on quickly to identifying the failures of Black elected officials: “In 1994, more than two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus helped pass the oppressive Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, … (which) led to devastating consequences for Black Americans.” Indeed, they did. And I am willing to bet that many of the Black Caucus members who voted for the bill regret doing so now.

But here’s the rub. I’ve never known Wilson to oppose any tough-on-crime legislation — local, state or federal. In his rush to blame Black elected officials for failing their constituents, is he implying that he opposed the Bill Clinton-era legislation in question? Or does Wilson also regret supporting the bill? If so, is he also willing to include himself in the list of politicians and civic leaders who bear some responsibility for the fact that “in Cook County, Black people account for 23% of the population but 73% of the jail population”?

These are questions that Wilson probably should have asked himself before he sat down to write.

Call to readers to pay attention

Kudos to Willie Wilson for speaking out in his column in Thursday’s Tribune. We should all be paying attention.


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