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Reader feedback: Addressing immigration issues

Influx of asylum applications, From News Shorts, Vol 8, No 42, Nov 4 to 10

Immigration has become a very hot topic, especially after 9/11/01. America certainly has become very weary of foreigners since the terrorist incident. This is also true in European countries, where countless articles discuss the fact that Europeans want to limit the number of foreigners coming into their country. But European countries are not attempting to limit immigration out of fear of terrorism, like the US.

I am the director of a center for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Baltimore, Maryland. I am very aware of the determination of these people to succeed in their new homeland, the same determination possessed by my own grandparents.

There is an obvious difference between countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, which were still developing in the late 19th and early 20th century, and European countries that have had mixed nationalities living side by side for centuries. Their histories are different and [so are] their perceptions.

I generally believe that immigration is good. But when we look at a poor country like Slovakia with unemployment still over 17 percent, we have to ask ourselves not whether immigration is good, but whether the country is able to support it. In this context, perhaps Slovakia cannot easily do so. Yet, from a humanitarian perspective, I do believe Slovakia must find a way to support refugees and asylum seekers.

I do not know how individual countries will grapple with this question. I hope only that we do so with knowledge and compassion.

Thom Vanecko

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