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Sanctuary: How do we define it?

The recent community debate about whether to welcome Syrian refugee families to Hudson’s St. Patrick’s Parish Church was left seemingly unresolved. Then a comment made by St. Croix County Supervisor Roy Sjoberg at January’s County Board meeting ignited renewed debate.

“I also wanted to have a discussion about being open and fair to refugees and immigrants,” Sjoberg said. “While I’m not going to propose that on the agenda, there are certain things called safe sanctuary cities.”

There are also a few sanctuary counties sprinkled across the country. Sjoberg said St. Croix County should at least have a discussion on the topic.

“What we as a county might decide to say politically and ethically on this issue — again, maybe not on next month’s agenda — but I think it should be part of our discussion if we’re setting policy for our community,” Sjoberg continued.

In response, members of the newly formed Citizens for St. Croix Valley, described on their Facebook page as “concerned citizens looking to promote fair immigration and the cultural integrity of Saint Croix County,” spoke at the county’s Administrative Committee two weeks later.

“All along this process we’ve been lied to and any board member that is going to propose a sanctuary city better rethink that pretty quick,” said one of the members, Mike Krsiean.

Krsiean continued: “If you want to represent the people of Syria or Jordan or any other Middle East country, you go run for office over there, because that stuff is not going to fly here. There will be repercussions.”

The point of all the background? This debate on refugees is not going away. It’s really just begun, and it is affecting us right here at home.

One of the great things about this country — what continues to be one of the great things — is its ability and willingness to lend a hand to those unable to do for themselves what the collective can.

The protection of those less fortunate, those persecuted, those in danger with nowhere to turn comprise the pillars upon which America was built.

Fewer than 10 days into his first term in political office, President Donald Trump made clear his position on “sanctuary jurisdictions” by signing an executive order denying federal funding to cities, counties, state agencies and the like that continue to look the other way when it comes to actively investigating citizenship status.

Nearly hand-in-hand is another order signed last weekend by the president that severely restricts immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admission for four months, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely, bringing into question the permanence of those pillars.

At some point, seemingly every generation is tasked with the question the country seems to be facing at this very moment — who do we want to be?

So think about it. Speak out. Your thoughts matter. Have the discussion. Pass along feedback to your elected representatives.

This community depends on it. This country depends on it. This world depends on it.

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