Guest Opinion, Why I support this resolution
Editor’s note: Monday, Midway City Council Member Logan Nance introduced a resolution regarding refugees. (See story on front page.) The following guest opinion is his account of how and why he introduced it. On May 6, I will be reintroducing a resolution to the rest of the city council. The crux of the resolution is the following: “The City Council of Midway, Kentucky declares its support for the resettlement of refugees no matter their religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or country of origin in Kentucky and calls upon other Kentucky communities to join them in supporting a stronger national effort to resettle refugees around the world in need of a home.” This resolution, which I wrote, has the support of Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM), a local organization that coordinates refugee resettlement in central Kentucky and provides integration assistance services for them. KRM believes that such a resolution will go a long way in making refugees in the region feel more welcome and allow Midway to publicly proclaim that we set the standard for what it means to be a welcoming community. As a U.S. Army veteran, I have seen up close and personal the plight of displaced persons who are forced to flee their homes to seek refuge because of war, natural disaster, and persecution. When I learned about similar resolutions that have been done in many other cities across the country, but never in Kentucky, I knew that it would be perfect for Midway. The resolution commits us to do nothing more than we are already doing. We have several churches and families in Midway that have sponsored the resettlement of refugees and we have refugee families who have joined churches in our community. Writing and introducing this resolution in Midway made all the sense in the world. As I researched more about the data behind the refugee crisis, I was surprised by several things. I had no idea that refugees granted resettlement in the United States are the most vetted individuals to come into our country. At a minimum, it takes three years for numerous government agencies to perform the necessary background checks on refugees selected for resettlement, and often it can take longer than a decade. All through this process the refugees are forced to remain in the country to which they originally fled, often in camps with little access to food, water, and medical aid. I also had no idea that the average refugee pays the U.S government around $21,000 more in taxes than they ever receive through any kind of welfare payments, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. When the resolution was first introduced many people thanked the council for tackling such an important subject, and several people vocalized or wrote their objection to the resolution. Some of the objections I anticipated, while others I did not. A common objection I heard was simply misinformation. For some people they hear or see the word “refugee” and they think “illegal immigrant”, when in fact the two are complete opposites. Another objection was the inclusion of Amnesty International (AI) in the discussion, or the role Midway should play in tackling this topic. I could never change everyone’s mind to come around to my way of thinking, and that’s OK; there are some issues about which I could not be swayed to see differently. That said, after the April 9 public forum on the resolution, I took the time to think about some of the comments and rewrite the resolution to better fit Midway and without the assistance of AI. I support the work that AI does in support of refugees, and while I may not support everything they do or believe in, I can at least find good in their desire to help others. As far as Midway’s role in discussing a global issue like the refugee crisis, I believe that our communities’ importance cannot be overstated. In times like these, I believe that small town America is more important than ever. Midway is the best community in the world, I truly believe that, and it is up to us to lead the way for the rest of the world by showing them how we treat each other. The new resolution, which includes some new language, maintains the same resolved section as before. I am going to do my best to post the resolution around town so that people without social media can view it before we vote to adopt it, or not adopt it, on May 6. This resolution was not my attempt to tackle some heavy partisan issue; it just seemed like the right thing to do. Several thousand refugees, predominantly from the Congo, have been resettled in the region, including Woodford County. More than 25 million refugees worldwide are in need of resettlement, according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. Only about 1 percent of those refugees will ever be resettled. The goal of this resolution was to educate citizens on refugees so that they can better understand their plight and, if so moved, find an organization like KRM or AI to volunteer with, and for Midway to lift its voice with other like-minded communities to call on a stronger national effort to resettle refugees around the world who are in need of a home.