Last night, I read Jack Whitley's comments about Muslims, and he was repeatedly referred to as a resident of Big Stone County ("Party rebukes GOP leader's Muslim smears," Nov. 21).

I live in Big Stone County, my family has lived here since 1880, and I love the area beyond words of expression. However, if I felt that Whitley's comments really represented the view of more than a small minority of the citizens of the area, I would pack my bags.

I hate writing comments and I hate controversy, but last week I was in a meeting with a lovely young woman, the same age as my daughters, who had a clever and ambitious plan to help her community. She just happened to be Muslim, wearing traditional dress. She doesn't know me well, but she does know I live in Big Stone County, and I simply could not stand the thought of her thinking that I would allow this comment to remain unchallenged.

Brent Olson, Ortonville, Minn.


What executive order means for Congress

Congressional Republicans should take two concrete steps in response to the president's executive action on immigration ("Resolute Obama dares Congress," Nov. 21). Before doing so, they must commit to staying on point and not distracting from the issue by going down the impeachment or government shutdown track again. These are both proven losers.

When they assume control of both houses in January, their first action should be to pass a bill addressing border security only. All other matters will be addressed when a sufficient period, perhaps a year, has passed and the effectiveness of the measures can be evaluated. The president's actions are generally reasonable, but in the wrong order. Congress now has the ability to remedy this. Complete and airtight border security has broad, bipartisan support, and Republicans should be able to get enough moderate Democrats on board to pass such a bill with veto-proof majorities in both houses.

However, they also must counter the incentive that has just been given to continue to break immigration law and pass a second bill that states that any individual here illegally who takes advantage of the benefits the president just announced automatically forfeits any chance of ever being considered for citizenship. The most such individuals should be eligible to attain is legal permanent resident status. This would keep the compassion of the plan by retaining the principle of not separating families seeking a better life, but would also enact real-world and long-lasting consequences for breaking the law and likely provide some deterrent on those considering the same action in the future.

Alex Adams-Leytes, New Brighton

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President Obama has issued an executive order offering extended work visas — not citizenship — to illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for five or more years, have children born in the U.S. (who are citizens), who have no felony record and who have paid their taxes. These are more stringent criteria for living in this country than required of naturally born citizens.

Sen. Tom Colburn predicts that anarchy may erupt in response to the executive order. The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that went far beyond the work permit extension granted by Obama. The only reason the Senate bill did not become law is because the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives refused to allow the bill to come to a vote. Had they allowed a vote, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans would have passed the bill, and Obama would have signed it into law.

Now the Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government again by refusing to pass an operating budget. The only reason for a popular "revolt" in this country is to vote out members of Congress who refuse to hammer out bipartisan legislation on such an important national issue as immigration reform.

William S. Seeley, Minneapolis

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Obama and the Senate leadership disenfranchise us all. We elect representatives to the House who pass legislation. The legislation sits on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's desk and is never taken up by the Senate. This allows Obama to decree by executive action whatever he wants. Except for those who benefit by the lack of legislation, we are all losers in the process.

Al Muerhoff, Bloomington

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The president's executive action to enable millions of undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation suggests that he should familiarize himself with the U.S. Constitution, enacted in 1787 by our founding fathers. The latter created a fantastic division of power of the federal government into executive, legislative and judicial bodies, each with prescribed functions. This has worked well for over 200 years and we should not allow the president to arbitrarily take over the legislative branch. Our nation is based on a system of laws that protect our citizens from arbitrary and capricious government actions.

The president, claiming that his action benefits illegal immigrants, simply perpetuates secondhand citizenship. We have generous legal procedures in which the law determines who is admitted and who starts the path to citizenship and all its prerogatives. This "legal" process admits over a million "legal" immigrants each year, more than any other nation. Obama's action is illegal and may create a constitutional crisis.

Is the president catering to certain minority groups for political advantage? Only he knows. In any event, he should stick to proper procedures as defined by our Constitution.

Seymour Handler, Edina


The church is still putting itself first

Rather than reading that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has deepened its compassion and awareness of responsibility for the nightmare of sexual abuse it has cast upon its flock, we now learn instead that its focus is on whether to file for financial bankruptcy due to costs incurred to protect itself against child and other sex-abuse charges ("Archdiocese considers filing for bankruptcy," Nov. 21).

This hierarchy has been primarily concerned with fighting valid charges of abuse instead of facing the moral issue, repenting and making amends. Indeed it is reported that $4.2 million has been spent so far simply to find a way of escaping culpability, and another $7 million was used to protect income via a new nonprofit separate from its own revenue figures.

The archdiocese was established to provide a framework for spiritual and moral guidance, for love and support of its religious faithful. In this sense, it is already bankrupt — no filing required.

Shawn Gilbert, Bloomington