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Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


The Feb. 11 article about preparing election workers for worst-case scenarios on Election Day ("Active shooter drills to prepare for voting?") makes me wish that anyone who wants to question the integrity of our elections should first be required to work as an election judge. Nothing will reaffirm one's faith in democracy like spending a day right in the middle of the action.

I've served as an election judge in various locations around Dakota and Washington counties since 2002. Minnesota law requires a fair representation of different political parties among the election judges at each polling location. I've worked with over a hundred election judges over the years, and even after spending a 15-hour day with them, I've never had a clue about the party affiliation of any of my fellow judges. Rather than thinking about ways to steal elections or undermine democracy, election judges focus on nuts-and-bolts issues like making sure that ballot counts match up, that voters understand the proper voting procedures, and that each election is conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

At the end of every long Election Day, I always leave the polling place with the feeling that if a bunch of people from different parties can work so well together to make sure the election is fair, there might still be a little hope for democracy. Everyone should experience that.

Ethan Wood, Woodbury


How will U avoid past problems?

The article "U intends to buy teaching hospital back" (Feb. 10) summarizes University of Minnesota regents' intent to pursue repurchase the university's hospital from Fairview. No details regarding the cost nor origins of funds were presented, but presumably that means us. I focused on one excerpt from the article: At their recent retreat, the regents were told that one reason U stopped running the medical center in the 1990s was that its performance was poor, and others had more expertise. The medical center was subsequently sold to Fairview, which operates it today.

My question to the regents and others is: After the sale of the medical center — to be operated by others, because the U's operating performance was poor, and after having the medical center operated by Fairview, not the U, for more than 25 years — what operational expertise has the U suddenly absorbed from its non-operation of its medical center?

Most everyone realizes that the U's sudden interest to own and operate the medical center was predicated upon Sanford's offer to purchase and operate it. How does their expertise in operating a medical center compare to that of the U's of not having operated the center for more than 25 years?

Terry Kita, Minneapolis


Bring some sense to broken system

The reader whose letter appeared this past Sunday ("Hard no to sanctuary bill," Feb. 11) offered a number of false characterizations as justification for his ardent opposition to the North Star Act. For one thing, many if not most people coming across our borders are fleeing chaos and poverty in their home country. They're not just "seeking a better paycheck." What would any of us in their position do? When they cross, they don't "thumb their nose" at our laws. They actually look for a border official who they can surrender to and plead for asylum, which is something they have a right to do under our laws.

With a system of immigration laws as broken as ours, it's hard for someone trying to enter this country to not find themselves on the wrong side of them. And when their case has been entered into our legal system, it literally takes years and thousands of dollars in legal assistance (which they can't afford) before their case is adjudicated.

So most of these people end up living in our communities with undocumented status. They find jobs — mostly jobs the rest of us don't want; they pay taxes and they raise families. They're productive and in all other respects obey our laws.

Without a law like the proposed North Star Act, many of these people witness criminal wrongdoing in our communities. They can help law enforcement by telling them what they're witnessing, but won't because they fear being caught up in deportation proceedings and being separated from their families.

Many leaders in law enforcement are on record supporting this legislation. We're all better off with laws like this.

Gregory P. Olson, Eden Prairie


Pleased to recently find thoughtful comments on legal/illegal immigration instead of uninformed platitudes often seen favoring all immigration, legal or not. A January letter to the editor takes issue with how a Star Tribune editorial from Jan. 17 "trivializes the fact that our current president is failing one of the very core functions of the presidency." Many of us liberals agree but notice those who believe in legal and reasonable numbers intimidated into silence by terms such as "anti-immigrant," used often, as well as accusations of "hatred."

In reality, almost no one hates immigrants. Writers need to look at their use of hyperbole.
Another reader from Feb. 5 questions Explore Minnesota's plan to attract more residents, asking how many more workers and residents we really need. Environmentalists like me shudder about farmland and wildlife habitat becoming urban sprawl. I marvel that as our state promotes its natural beauty for tourism it now strives to increase human population — killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Yes, we may someday want to "Hide Minnesota." He also promotes the not-mentioned-enough idea by Italy's prime minister of "improv[ing] conditions in African nations in order to stem the deluge of migrants reaching Italian shores."

In the Jan. 20 commentary "On immigration, Democrats have sailed away," the New York Times' David Leonhardt says, "Democrats assumed that a more open immigration policy would help increase their support among voters of color. Instead, the opposite has happened." Could it be that many voters of color, often in lower-wage jobs their employers would like to pay even less for, see illegal immigrants who will do any work to be here competing with them? He nails it with: "But most Americans also think that the country's immigration laws should mean something and that citizens of other countries should not be able to enter this country simply because they want to."

Linda Huhn, Minneapolis


"Why don't they come here legally?" That's the question asked by Star Tribune letter writers and many others. Others say it differently: I don't like them illegals.

Think about this. Studies reveal close to 100% of immigrants prefer to enter legally. So why don't they just stand in line to do so? For most, no such "line" exists. Under the U.S. legal code, lawful entry is largely restricted to those in just a few categories: 1) they must have U.S. relatives (spouses, children, siblings or parents), 2) be fleeing specific types of persecution (not just economic hardship), or 3) hold specific advanced degrees and work in high-skilled professions.

Furthermore, backlogs for entry often range anywhere from five to 20 years and many must migrate through arduous paths (e.g. via criminal smugglers and the infamous Darién Gap). For those required to "remain in Mexico," the border region embodies poor, dangerous and unsanitary conditions unfit for mothers with children. Finally, immigration limits are woefully inadequate to meet either humanitarian needs or U.S. needs for labor and a larger tax base.

President Joe Biden instituted a partial solution. Asylum-seekers can now apply through the internet and wait for adjudication at home. These new "safe mobility offices" only exist in Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Application is confusing, isn't well-advertised and isn't open to enough people. Since economists on all sides believe immigrants enhance our economy through increased productivity, jobs and taxes, let's improve this new system.

Jacqueline Murray Brux, River Falls, Wis.