Having just returned from a delegation to the U.S./Mexico border representing Mayflower United Church of Christ, I agree with the Star Tribune Editorial Board that the Mexican government needs a new strategy to take on the drug cartels (“Murders in Mexico,” editorial, Nov. 6).

What must be kept in mind, however, is what gives the cartels their strength. Their main source of revenue is the demand for drugs in the United States. A new source of revenue is human trafficking. The draconian, cruel, ineffective U.S. border policy has made it much more difficult to enter the U.S. without documents, even if the migrant has a valid asylum claim. The U.S. has bullied Mexico into supporting this policy. The drug cartels now control the means of entering the U.S. other than at ports of entry (and they have bribed or coerced people to smuggle drugs through the ports of entry as well — more than 90% of the drugs coming to the U.S. come through the ports of entry). The cartels reap the profit that used to go to private coyotes. Also, the cartels get their guns from the United States.

In short, it won’t be possible for Mexico to implement an effective new strategy regarding the cartels until the U.S. changes its policies related to drugs, immigration and gun control.

Thomas Haines, Eden Prairie

DHS DYSFUNCTION

Oops! There goes $52 million

The Department of Human Services chief financial officer has concluded, “We broke the law” (“DHS broke state law 200 times,” front page, Nov. 6). The Minnesota legislative auditor opined that overpayments to tribal bands “indicate a level of mismanagement and dysfunction within DHS that is extremely troubling.” The deputy DHS commissioner concluded, “We have a lot of room for improvement and a lot of work to do in order to live up to our trustworthy reputation.”

Euphemisms aside, Minnesota taxpayers have been defrauded of $52 million by state employees named “we,” who will neither be charged nor fired. And we, the taxpayers, have no recourse against the “trustworthy” DHS.

Gene Delaune, New Brighton

FOOD STAMPS

Trump must stop trimming SNAP

Providing vital nutritional support to people who struggle with financial barriers to obtaining food is a bedrock issue for both of our organizations. That is why we are so concerned about recent changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture using an administrative rulemaking process that circumvents the intent of Congress.

These proposed changes taken together are expected to cause 35,000 Minnesotans to lose food stamp benefits entirely and others to have their benefits significantly reduced. The majority of those most affected include seniors, adults with disabilities and children whose working parents earn low wages. Furthermore, as families lose their SNAP benefits, their children lose automatic access to the school free-lunch program.

One proposed change would penalize households with even modest savings as they become subject to asset limits as low as $2,250. This penalizes seniors and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes as well as low-income working families attempting to create financial stability with savings for a home, a car repair or a health emergency. The food stamp program is already subject to income limitations; families should be encouraged to build savings, not be penalized.

Another proposed change would restrict states’ flexibility to determine the amount of deductions for utilities such as heat and to support families between 130-185% of the federal poverty level as they work to achieve self-sufficiency. Because of our heating costs, Minnesota is one of the states that would be most severely impacted by this change. When the U.S. House and Senate both passed the 2018 farm bill with bipartisan support, they wisely allowed discretion in SNAP funding that is used by three-quarters of all states.

As organizations with over 150 years of combined experience serving low-income Minnesotans, we call upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture to respect the legislation as passed by Congress and to allow states the flexibility to meet the nutrition needs of our residents who struggle to feed themselves and their families. Minnesota charities and state government working together to address hunger have a track record we can be proud of. Let’s keep it that way.

Judy Halper and Michelle Ness, Edina

Halper is CEO of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis and Ness is executive director at PRISM.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Let’s move on from online vitriol

As election results have come in for everything from soil conservation officer to school board, it’s time to reflect on some of the issues that bring us together — and tear us apart (“Minnetonka incumbents win school board race,” Nov. 6).

Our two young girls are open enrolled in the Minnetonka School District. In the days leading up to the election, there were ugly debates on social media platforms. I can imagine similar conversations happened, albeit probably more respectfully, in living rooms and on playgrounds across the district. A vocal minority — or so it seems based on the election results that retained most of the incumbents — has vilified the district and families around open enrollment.

In short: I don’t get it. Families who open enroll are just doing what’s right for their kids. Minnesota’s education system is often the envy of the nation. Many of our public schools have offerings that are found only in private schools elsewhere — and sometimes not until college. Families open enroll for varied reasons, including to excel in the arts, to be a part of a sports dynasty, to get support for a child with unique learning needs, to learn another language, or simply out of convenience. All of these are perfectly fine, yet some of us are left feeling unwelcomed and, at times, unwanted.

Last weekend, my kids had a post-Halloween party with some of their school friends and parents. With a mix of resident and open-enrolled parents, open enrollment barely came up in our conversation. When it did, we all agreed on one thing: the vitriol is hurtful to the kids and not productive in moving other concerns forward.

Jane Pennington, Hopkins

NCAA

Don’t add money — subtract it

If the NCAA wanted to take money out of college sports instead of corrupting them by allowing payment to athletes (“NCAA’s strategy: Protect its profits,” Oct. 30) and obscene salaries to athletic directors, coaches and assistants, they could start by setting a ceiling so coaches’ salaries do not exceed the average salaries of the top 10 highest-paid administrators at the respective universities where they are employed. It might not keep coaches from following the money, but it would help reduce some of the inequities between the competing schools.

Wayne Martin, Plymouth

 

 

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