History has a strange way of repeating itself. In reference to Beltrami County’s recent vote against refugee resettlement, I’ve heard many arguments that have been used time and time again in the past: We can’t afford it. They may not assimilate. We have to worry about “our own people” first. Time and time again, these cases have been made. And time and time again, they have been proven wrong.

Communities thrive when immigrants and refugees are welcomed. They are workers and consumers. They are parents and teachers. Most importantly, they are people; human beings who want the same thing “our own people” want: A better life for themselves and their children. They are our people. And their story is our story.

Most of us are the children of immigrants. Our grandparents and great-grandparents left behind everything they’d ever known on the gamble of a better life here in America. The fact that we are here today is a testament to their courage and the risk that they took for us. Who are we to deny that opportunity to the next generation?

How can we as the sons and daughters of immigrants deny refugees the blessings of liberty and freedom that we hold dear? What do we say to them? “You aren’t welcome. You don’t deserve the same freedoms as us. Some lives matter more than yours.”

Beltrami County must join the rest of Minnesota/North Dakota and welcome refugees in need. You may hide behind your walls and your excuses and your cowardice that you have mistaken for patriotism. As for me, my home, and my country, refugees are welcome, now and always.