In her usual caterwauling style, former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says that 14.3 million illegal immigrants are costing the taxpayer a "whopping $130 billion annually" ("Open borders rip our towns apart," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 27). She refers extensively to a recent in-depth Washington Post article about how Worthington, Minn., is suffering financially due to the large number of unaccompanied migrant children the school district has been burdened with. I read the article myself and there is no doubt that many there are fed up with ever-higher property taxes and never-ending school spending referendums. There is no doubt that there is racial animus toward Latinos by some citizens there. Others in Worthington are welcoming to these kids.
Bachmann cites the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) for the $130 billion figure. Bachmann fails to mention that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls FAIR a hate group with a heavy anti-Latino and anti-Catholic bias. The SPLC says its founders have ties to white-supremacy groups and members and other questionable behaviors. This calls into question the validity of their data. Readers can easily research this for themselves.
An even more relevant fact that Bachmann conveniently neglects to mention is the $1.9 trillion added to the deficit from 2018-2028 that President Donald Trump, former Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Mitch McConnell caused with their tax cuts and will cause into the distant future. Now, $130 billion is not chump change, but it's just a fraction of what her dear president and loyal lackies gave all taxpayers. Furthermore, the deficit figure comes from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, not an anti-immigrant hate group. I am sure all readers will recall this knee-slapper: that these massive tax cuts were supposed to pay for themselves.
Bachmann ends this shameless screed with the prediction that her hero, Donald J. Trump, will come to the rescue of Worthington's long suffering (white?) citizens. Once again, Bachmann comes up on the wrong side of the debate and the facts. She is a former congresswoman for many a good reason and sloppy research is one of them.
Bob Brereton, St. Paul
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There are at least three things missing from Michele Bachmann's Sept. 27 op-ed:
First, recognition that all immigrants (authorized or not) pay taxes. They pay state and federal income and payroll taxes through their work pay checks. Taxes are deducted every two weeks. They pay sales tax when they shop. And, they pay property taxes whether they are renters or homeowners. They're paying for the state and local services they use, including the Worthington schools.
Second, recognition and understanding that immigrants are significant contributors to the development and growth of our economy. They start businesses and help existing ones grow. More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their children. They are key to replacing our retiring baby boomer workforce. Sure, there are costs for getting immigrants settled, but their contributions eclipse these in a generation or less.
And, third, recognition that our current immigration system is broken and urgently needs repair. Instead of singing the praises of the current administration's efforts to enforce an obsolete law, Bachmann should be suggesting ways to redesign it to support 21st-century community growth and the development of our economy.
Bill Blazar, Minneapolis
The writer is a former senior vice president at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Consider environmental effects, too
My concern about rezoning city lots for duplexes and triplexes is the issue of hardscape. In order to make multifamily homes with enough space in them for families, these properties will cover more of yards that once were grass and garden space.
With Minnesota getting wetter, where is water runoff going to go? City sewers were not installed to handle the volumes of rainwater that we can expect. Covering more city properties with larger buildings will send more water to sewers (and basements that are already getting flooded) as water-absorbing grass, trees and plants are replaced.
Insurance costs for flooding problems will rise, resulting in higher rents, which will again price lower-income residents out.
Also, less garden and lawn space means fewer flowering plants. This will affect our already diminished insect species such as honeybees and Monarch butterflies.
Vickie Cyr, Minneapolis
Park Board should stick to maintaining our green spaces
The commentary by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Sept. 27 brought up so many concerns, it is hard to know where to begin ("City taxpayers already fund our parks generously," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 27). It was astounding that the average Minneapolis resident "contributes" $346.97 annually in taxes to their parks. That figure is 30% more than the next-closest figure in the country. Yet with all that money, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Brad Bourn wants $1 million more than the $3.5 million levy increase last year and another $3.8 million this year.
I'd also like to know why — "unlike other city departments" — the Park Board can independently decide how to use its money.
Bourn and I have exchanged a few e-mails about the board's decision to rename not only Lake Calhoun but also all the parkways that bear that name. Maybe if Bourn and the board members concentrated on their core mission (maintaining parks) rather than youth development programs and promoting a "social justice agenda" with politically correct name changes, the board would have enough money to actually do its job.
And then there were the reports of cronyism with the controversial hiring of a consultant last year.
There are many reasons for residents to have concerns about the current make up of that board.
Pamela Pommer, Bloomington
Guns cannot go unmentioned
To write about the increasing number of veterans who die by their own hand and not mention firearms is a glaring omission on the part of the Star Tribune Editorial Board ("Another grim report on veteran suicides," Editorial, Sept. 30). "Reinforcements" from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and increased prevention efforts can't compete with access to guns without gun safety laws. More than 69% of veteran suicides are from firearms, according to the VA's 2019 report.
Suicide attempts are often impulsive, and their lethality is almost guaranteed when firearms are used. Red-flag legislation can interrupt that impulsivity. The firearm suicide rate in Minnesota increased 11% from 2016 to 2017, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Suicide attempts with a gun result in death 85% of the time vs. 5% by other means, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Talking about preventing veteran suicides without mentioning guns is like talking about the increase in natural disasters such as drought-caused forest fires and coastal flooding and asking for more firemen and more flood control without mentioning the harmful effects of human activity on climate change. It's irresponsible journalism. Give your readers the whole truth about veteran suicides, not just some of it.
Sherry Machen, Plymouth
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