How nice for Minnesotans to know that the majority leader of the Minnesota Senate, Paul Gazelka, got to hitch a ride with President Donald Trump’s car this week in Duluth (“Hitching a ride with the president: An enlightening honor,” June 22). How exciting for you, senator! What a nice photo op.

I am, however, very disappointed that you have forgotten the farmers of our state who are being squeezed and harmed by the pointless and senseless tariffs imposed by this president. Farming is a business, not a pastime, and is critical for our urban and rural economy. As reported in the Star Tribune on the same day as your article, Minnesota ranks fourth in the country in agricultural exports — yes, fourth. As a retired director of logistics at two of the best food companies in the U.S., which are headquartered in Minnesota (Pillsbury/General Mills and Land O’Lakes), I know only too well the harm that results from misguided “shoot, then aim” trade policies that fail to anticipate the implications of protective trade actions that drive the customers of our exports to seek alternate suppliers. In the case of Minnesota soybean exports, Brazil is likely smiling.

You missed an opportunity in your ride-along with the president to advocate for Minnesota farmers and counsel him on the real implications of tariffs.

Judy T. Ohannesian, North Oaks


Freeloading is what I perceive. Let’s take care of our own first.

I am now “fed up to here” with hearing about illegals at our border who are now being housed, fed and getting medical care on taxpayers’ dollars! Cry me a river. We have legal citizens who are veterans who lack homes and seniors who must choose between their prescriptions or eating! There are approximately 1.4 million American children who go hungry each and every day. I could go on and on.

I am sickened to think we don’t take care of our own before trying to be the rest of the world’s checkbook.

Jane Christenson, Minnetrista

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The debate about migrants trying to get into the U.S. misses one point. Those opposed to admitting migrants are working on the premise that the migrants are somehow harmful to our country; this premise is false. Our country was built by immigrants. If America is indeed exceptional, the reason is the steady flow of immigrants. The only folks who should have had stricter immigration rules are the American natives. We should be thinking of the migrants not as a burden, but as a resource. There are plenty of native-born Americans I know whom I’d happily trade for a randomly selected migrant clamoring for entry, beginning with a guy named Donald J. Trump.

James E. Watson, Maplewood

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As many have noted, the U.S. does not have a coherent policy on migration/immigration.

The United Nations issues a biennial International Report to quantify and identify how many migrants there are, where they come from and where they end up. The report for 2017 is available online; see

To briefly summarize part of the report, there are an estimated 258 million humans living in a country other than their country of birth.

The largest number of migrants (49.8 million, or 19 percent) reside in the U.S. My question to the American people and federal government is: How many can we accept?

All, some or none of these humans?

Once this is decided, one possible plan to assimilate our new guests would include legal documentation for all, including Social Security numbers. An attainable path to full citizenship. Finally, raising the federal minimum wage to at least $15. The new arrivals help to refresh the depleted Social Security and Medicare trusts, and in return they become citizens to have a voice in the future direction of their adopted country. I think we have done something like this before.

Scott Standa, Wayzata

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It appears the June 20 editor’s note (Readers Write) stating that “there’s no law requiring the separation of families attempting to cross the border” has struck a nerve with some readers. Two ensuing letters to the editor on consecutive days made reference to the false claim that the policy was in place before President Trump took office. One letter writer alluded to the 1997 Flores settlement stating that the Department of Human Services “could detain children captured at the border for only 20 days before releasing them” as proof that the requirement to separate children from their families has been in place since the Clinton administration. What he left out and what the consent decree referred to was “unaccompanied children,” meaning kids who crossed the border without a parent.

The fact is, there was never a family separation policy until Trump instituted his “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Massive public outcry forced the president to cave and reverse himself earlier this week. Perhaps Trump misjudged Americans’ sense of compassion, or maybe he thought he could keep it all a secret. Either way, the president and his followers need to stop blaming Democrats, the media or anyone but the man responsible for the policy, Donald J. Trump himself. He could help right this wrong with a sincere apology and an all-out effort to reunite the children with their families.

Stephen Monson, Golden Valley


Mention them and the debate begins. Here are opposing views:

Once again, we’ve been subjected to a large load of tired old right-wing arguments against unions (“Pending court ruling could restore balance,” June 21). There is much to refute in Kim Crockett’s commentary, but let me address two main points. First, that requiring a worker who enjoys the advantages of union wages, benefits and working conditions to pay for the union’s bargaining and administrative costs is somehow infringing on the worker’s “freedom”: The only freedom being curtailed by requiring workers to pay their fair share of the union’s costs is the freedom to get something for nothing — to be a parasite, a leech, a deadbeat and a freeloader. The second point is about Crockett’s last sentence, which suggests that unions should focus on employees as customers, implying that unions are businesses just like any other. This is completely untrue; a union is not a business, it is a movement for social justice. But for the sake of argument, let’s think of a union as a business. What business could long survive if the court said that its customers could avail themselves of its products and services without paying anything for them? The Janus case soon to be ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court is just one in a long line of right-wing efforts to weaken and ultimately destroy unions, and with them, any hope of dignity and respect for workers.

Mark Bradley, Roseville

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I worked for the Minnesota Highway Department (later called MnDOT) for 36 years and refused to join the union. I was forced to pay a “fair share,” which was only a dollar or so below what union members paid. The courts ruled that since “Fair Share members” were not eligible to take part in union picnics, scholarship funds for their college-bound sons/daughters and a few other union members’ programs, we didn’t have to pay for them. What really was unfair was the fact that a majority of dues from fair-share employees went to help elect Democrats, whom I was dead-set against because of many of their views. Unions give political gifts based on one issue. Most voters vote based on the overall views of each candidate. That’s why I hated being forced to pay union dues.

Every paper that the union put out on comparative wages outside of the public sector showed how those private-sector jobs paid much more than public jobs. Of course, the union papers left out the fact that many/most of those private employees were nonunion.

Chuck Bever, Milaca, Minn.