DEAR EDITOR:

Tragically, we are no longer a nation that welcomes immigrants. This was made official when the president directed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change its mission statement to delete references to the U.S. as a nation of immigrants. We can only hope that the next president acknowledges that we are, in fact, a nation of immigrants. Here are some facts about immigrants. A nation does better with an infusion of immigrants.  Immigrants start new businesses at twice the rate of nonimmigrants. Seventy percent of immigrants believe in the American dream, while only half of native-born Americans do. President Trump would have us believe that Mexicans and those seeking asylum from the triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are mostly criminals and we should fear them. The vast majority of these people are fleeing terrible violence and poverty. All of these countries have very high crime rates and extreme poverty. The vast majority of these people are simply hoping to enter America and work hard to make a better life for their families. Here are the facts: Only 1.6 percent of immigrant males between 18-39 become incarcerated compared with 3.3 percent of the native-born. Family structure is much more traditional with immigrants as compared to native-born and there is much less out of wedlock births. If you think back to the shootings at Columbine, and most of the multiple shootings in schools and churches since then, the shooters were white males and often with far right and/or racial beliefs. The majority were U.S. citizens, too. The president wants us to fear these immigrants and think the worst of them. I am thankful that most Americans do not want this wall. I believe the wall is un-American and will not deter those determined to cross our border. We have always been a nation that other countries around the world admire because of our great diversity, which was born from our acceptance of people of all nations, cultures, creeds and colors. I would hope our next president would restore us to the country we used to be. If he or she is successful, that is what will make America great once again. Finally, don’t fear immigrants at our southern border. The majority by far are good family people. Remember the wise words of former president Franklin Roosevelt: “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”

Tom Heffernan

Ridgway