All refugees want is a home to call their own

Lloyd Omdahl

When we don’t have the courage to admit we are bigots, we take the circuitous route by claiming our objections are based on costs and the rumors we hear from other bigoted observers. That is what is happening in North Dakota in the refugee resettlement program.

The first unfounded rumor I heard was from someone who insisted the Muslims working at cash registers wouldn’t process pork. At a store last week, I waited for the Muslim clerk to throw my pork chops on the floor in disgust. Nothing happened.

Refugees have been accused of refusing to learn English, an important step in acculturation. However, English classes have been provided and the refugees know to make it in America they will have to get past the language barrier.

This little rumor reminds me of the ethnic pockets in North Dakota that held on to their native languages when they came to the states. More than a few Main Streets ran on German and Norwegian well into the ‘60s. And the streets of Pisek hummed with Czech.

Then there other refugees driving better cars than some of our home folks. It is obvious these refugees are getting free cars from the government. Wait a minute.

Maybe we see a rare refugee with a decent car, but we don’t see others walking through the winter storms or riding bicycles on slippery streets.

Then there’s the rumor that most of these refugees have criminal backgrounds. This is a wicked rumor emanating from Washington.

The screening process takes care of the vast majority of prospective immigrants who intend harm. When we get past the bigotry into the specifics, we find very little to justify our hostility for these people who have been in no-person’s land for two decades. All they want is a home.

As the richest people on the planet, it is time for us to do the right thing. If not us, then who?

Meanwhile, agencies work oversees to coordinate medical screening and cultural orientation. Then the Department of Homeland Security conducts another security screening. If dangerous people slip through, we have our own government officials to blame.

With this tight screening system, it is possible that as many bad refugees get through as quack doctors, fake scientists and shyster lawyers get through their screening processes.

Refugees coming to North Dakota have spent an average of over 19 years living in limbo. The 60 per cent who are women and children can be stricken from our list of suspects . Ninety-eight percent had North Dakota connections before arriving in the United States.

The majority of refugees were not Somali in 2019 – they were from the Congo. In 2018, the majority were Bhutanese. In 2019, only five were Somali. By religion, 85 percent were Christian and 15 percent were Muslim.

It’s time for a little story about refugees.

This unwhite family was travelling down Highway 83 between Minot and Bismarck when the water pump squealed to a stop, forcing the vehicle off the road. Hoping for help, the family was joyful when a late model Buick came over the rise.

The circuit riding preacher looked briefly, thought about the third church that was expecting him, and bypassed the problem. Next came a priest but he had just gotten his neat outfit back from the cleaner so he bypassed the problem. Next came a roughneck from the Bakken, hurrying south to Kansas to see his family.

He stopped, got out a big roll of duct type and closed the water system while spitting snoose and unabashedly swearing a blue streak. He was a pagan, for sure.

Remember in church when we heard original version, we cheered the pagan because he did the right thing.

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