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Letters to the Editor

Immigration centers are private prisons

TO THE EDITOR

I recently learned that Immigration Centers of America has asked the city of New Richmond to rezone part of the city so they can build a jail to hold asylum seekers fleeing dangerous conditions or political oppression in their home countries.

"Immigration Center" sounds like a facility where newly arrived immigrants to the United States would be welcomed, provided with necessities and assisted in finding safe places to live and work.

Instead, these immigration centers are private prisons subcontracted by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to confine men, women and children. You may have seen photos of such prisons. These poor people, many who can't speak English, are being warehoused by corporations like Immigration Centers of America which wants to drag New Richmond into their cesspool.

I visited Dachau 20 years after United States soldiers had buried the thousands of bodies they found, flushed away the blood and faeces, cleaned the crematory ovens and rescued the survivors. It was a strangely quiet place with an impressive front gate assuring prisoners that "Arbeit Macht Frei," Work Makes You Free.

I doubt that anyone in New Richmond wants to live near a concentration camp. I am not equating Immigration Centers of America with the SS but both are tools of governments with the same fear and hatred of people who don't look or talk like most of us. Some of those people may be rapists or murderers, but we need more immigration judges to weed out the criminals, not more jails to store them in our communities. We need to welcome strangers seeking safety, not help the haters put them in jail.

Chuck & Jerri Rang

New Richmond

Buried in plastic

TO THE EDITOR

Pictures of sea animals mangled in human-created plastic is enough to make anyone feel sad. Last month in the Philippines, a beached whale was found with 88 pounds of plastic inside its body. Although it may be easy to point fingers and shame the whale-killing litterers on the other side of the globe, the truth is that our plastic habits in the U.S. and in New Richmond, have just as much impact on the phenomenon of plastic contamination in our oceans. We are not good recyclers; 91% of plastic is still not being recycled. Of that 91%, most of it ends up in streams and rivers, lakes and oceans, instead of landfills. These numbers are growing.

The consequences of not acting on this are bigger than one may imagine. The negative impacts plastic pollution has had on wildlife are apparent; however, the question remains: what's in it for us - besides a clean conscious? The unhealthy habits we practice when it comes to plastic and their negative impacts on wildlife boomerang, causing danger to the creators of the problem itself. When humans' lack of recyclation leads to plastic in our oceans, rivers and streams, the animals that inhabit those areas come into contact with something that doesn't belong in their world. Many animals mistake pieces of plastic for food, giving them the false satisfaction of nutrition. If these animals end up being consumed by people, the plastic in their bodies will have the same negative effect on the person as it did on the animal that ate it.

On the other hand, a significant amount of animals that are affected by a plastic-based diet will die, causing gaps in the ecosystem, ultimately leading to shortages or complete losses of resources. As plastic decomposes or burns, it releases toxins into the air. The only way to safely be rid of the drawbacks of plastic is to curb its use and recycle what we have instead of creating more.

Our gross overuse of plastic affects us in far more ways than thought possible in the moment we throw our single-use water bottle into a garbage bin which leads to the root of the problem: too much plastic is being made, and not enough is being recycled. Due to the lack of altruistic

qualities in humans, public policy is our best hope to address the plastic crisis.

We must focus on the biggest single-use plastic users: businesses. Without giving up the ease of packaging and utility that plastic provides, we need to recognize a solution to decrease plastic production. Instead of buying new plastic, businesses should be required to buy recycled plastic through regulation. This government action is necessary because it would require businesses to use recycled plastic, forcing the usage of new plastic to decrease drastically. This will also lead to an increase in demand for recycled plastic, causing either the public or private sector to incentivize citizens with tax breaks or reimbursement for recycling plastic. Because the plastic crisis is out of the control of private businesses or individuals, it needs to be handled by implementing public policy to ensure it gets done.

Even though this worldwide problem is out of the hands of good deeds by any individual or business, a lot can be done to be a part of the solution.

Recycle. This is the most effective and least life-altering way to assure a solution. This also goes for businesses. Recycling will not help the overproduction of plastic, but it will cut down the amount of garbage piling up in landfills and in your garbage bin.

Buy local. In New Richmond, we are lucky to have a wide collection of businesses surrounding us. Buy local from places like MooJos, Covet and St. Croix Automotive to not only cut down on plastic packaging, but to boost our local economy.

Nothing will get better if we are not willing to make small and significant changes to our lives. Unfortunately, no one entity can be blamed for this phenomenon. However, this is our world, and it is the responsibility of every person to ensure its health so that we can ensure the health of one another.

Alli Preece

New Richmond