LETTERS: Accomack mayor, fentanyl issue, language of leadership


Accomac mayor’s words ‘hateful’

To the editor:
I am sure the April 26 Eastern Shore Post article, “40 kids and their 60 vehicles and their 30 dogs,” quoting Mayor Pat Smith of Accomac, shocked many other residents of the Eastern Shore as much as it did me.

The fearmongering, anti-immigrant, hateful language used by Smith during an official town meeting is an embarrassment to the town, and unfortunately also to the rest of us living in Accomack County and on the Eastern Shore — we will undoubtedly be associated with her comment by others.

Leaving aside its apparent racist overtones, I would just like to point out how wrong Smith is in her over-generalizations that the Shore — and by extension presumably the state and country? — “is hurting because of immigrants.”

This is totally false. To the contrary, the current increase in immigration to the United States is actually boosting our country’s economy greatly today, as it has in the past.

Indeed, if only Smith — and her fellow anti-immigration sympathizers on local governing bodies — would understand the actual facts, perhaps their actions and policies would benefit our local economy, instead of holding it back.

On April 24, the very day of the Accomac town meeting, Washington Post’s economics columnist Catherine Rampell wrote, “immigrants are driving a U.S. economic boom … largely because immigration has boosted the size of the U.S. labor force.”

She noted that in the U.S., worker shortages in fields such as construction and food processing have largely been filled by immigrants.

The Eastern Shore suffers worker shortages in exactly these areas.

Rampell’s column continues, “Immigrants are willing to take jobs that native-born Americans are unwilling to do, such as the backbreaking work of harvesting potatoes, building homes and caring for the elderly.”

Indeed, the most difficult jobs in these very fields on the Eastern Shore are now being filled by recent immigrants or seasonal workers from Mexico, Central America, and elsewhere.

Rampell further notes that immigrants “are creating entirely new job opportunities by launching new businesses, something immigrants do at much higher rates than native-born Americans.”

Finally, she noted that “immigrants pay taxes and are much less likely than native-born Americans to ever qualify for benefits, including programs such as Medicare and Social Security.”

Thus, immigrant workers not only fill the tough jobs Americans reject, they actually subsidize our retirement benefits.

Much more can be said about these facts and their applicability to the economic development of the Eastern Shore, but I will simply urge our local authorities — and the people who vote for them — to listen to Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, when he recently said (on CBS “60 Minutes”) that “the U.S. economy has benefitted from immigration … and a big part of that story is immigration now returning to levels more typical of the pre-pandemic era.”

And if local authorities don’t care what the Federal Reserve says today, maybe they will listen to former President Ronald Reagan, who said some 40 years ago, “Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of economic opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas … always leading the world to the next frontier.…If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would be lost.”

Stacy Rhodes

Mayor Pat Smith’s
remarks ‘appalling’

To the editor:
According to the April 26 Eastern Shore Post article, “40 kids and their 60 vehicles and their 30 dogs,” the mayor of Accomac, Pat Smith, believes that “the Shore is hurting because of immigrants.” The mayor then requested something like “an immigration zoning tool.”

These remarks are inappropriate and appalling in an area where immigrants play such a vital part in the economy and in our local culture.

Immigrants and their families are an integral part of our communities, our churches, and the culture of the Eastern Shore, in addition to their significant importance to our economy.

Many immigrants and children of immigrants hold positions of respect and trust within our communities. Others are providing necessary labor to ensure the success of our area.

How many of our farms could succeed without the help of our seasonal and residential immigrants? Would our seafood businesses be able to operate without immigrant workers?

How many of our favorite restaurants are owned and staffed by immigrants who have chosen the Shore as their home?
Could our nurseries, processing plants, and canneries do without the hard work of our immigrant neighbors?

What about our healthcare system? I have had the privilege, for the last five years, to work with immigrants and the children of immigrants to the United States in our public school system.

I can assure you that these people are among the hardest-working I have ever known.

Most of these families make due with one or no vehicles and rely on and patronize public transportation (not easy here).

These people live, work, volunteer, and spend their money in our communities. By and large, they take care of themselves and each other in a way most of us do not.

The general work ethic is strong. A job is seen as an opportunity.

I admire my immigrant students and their families. I appreciate that there are homes where new immigrants are welcomed while they get their start here.

I wish them the best in achieving their American dream. I also hope that those of us who did not have to flee conditions in another country will welcome those who do as valuable assets to the Shore.

These people deserve our empathy and gratitude, not our disdain.

Let’s remember, if you are not of Native American descent, your ancestors were also immigrants, many of whom began in poverty but through diligence raised themselves and their progeny to build this great nation we now enjoy.
Imagine what our current immigrants might accomplish in the future.

Deirdre Purcell
Cape Charles

‘Not surprised’ at comments
from Accomac mayor

To the editor:
Regarding the article, “40 kids and their 60 vehicles and their 30 dogs,” about the most recent meeting of the Accomac Town Council in the April 26 edition of the Eastern Shore Post, I am a property and business owner in the town of Accomac.

I have attended many of the Accomac Town Council meetings; however, I was not able to attend this one.

I am not surprised at the behavior and comments, as this is common at most meetings.

Events like these bring to light the responsibility that every citizen has to attend the meetings of the local government.

These are people the residents have elected — they represent the residents and are making decisions that affect residents.

I encourage everyone to attend your town meetings to see and hear for yourself how your elected officials behave.

Brenda Smith

A need to rethink
the national drug problem

To the editor:
This is a response to the notice about the fentanyl crisis awareness forum printed in the April 26 issue of the Eastern Shore Post.

There are two main components to the overall drug crisis in America: our insatiable demand for illicit drugs, and the criminal enterprises producing and supplying those drugs.

The fentanyl overdose deaths are the deadly tip of a huge iceberg of American illicit drug demand and use.

We humans are deeply addictive creatures. We crave our junk (whatever is happens to be) and will do anything — anything — to get that junk.

We will risk out finances, families, careers, health, prison time, and even our very lives to get what we crave.

The street dealers, organized gangs, and drug cartels are simply supplying an in-demand product and rake in the fortunes of money we willingly shell out for our drugs.

Until we reduce our domestic demand for drugs, the multinational illicit production and distribution of those drugs will continue unabated. There’s just too much money to be made selling drugs.

Just as the prohibition of alcohol was a monumental failure during the 1920s and early 1930s, our 50-plus year “War on Drugs” has been an equal failure.

The law enforcement approach to solving this problem just doesn’t work. We need a total rethinking of the whole problem.

Brian Bloedel

‘The certain death of eloquent
and articulate speech’

To the editor:
I loved the paper-position editorial, “Language of locker rooms, language of leadership,” in the April 26 edition of the Eastern Shore Post. It was perfectly written.

The crass nature of speaking that is now accepted as the norm feels like the certain death of eloquent and articulate speech.

The single sentence that so perfectly sums it up, “Slipping away in our civil discourse is the line between lewd and prude.”

I hope all your readers stop and contemplate it as a whole.

After all, if this is what is becoming of language in speech form, how long before it has tainted our written word?

What will that mean for those of us in the business of written words in one form or another?
I think the editorial touches on a small example of a much bigger problem that you so well conveyed.

Kathryn Vatis

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