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Sounding off: ' Dreamers' and the Declaration's promise

| Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, 9:09 p.m.
Yurexi Quinones, 24, of Manassas, Va., a college student who is studying social work and a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, rallies next to Ana Rice, 18, of Manassas, Va., far right, in support of DACA, outside of the White House in Washington on Sept. 5, 2017. Colleges and universities nationwide are stepping up efforts to help the students who are often called 'Dreamers,' after the Trump administration announced plans to end that federal program protecting immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Yurexi Quinones, 24, of Manassas, Va., a college student who is studying social work and a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, rallies next to Ana Rice, 18, of Manassas, Va., far right, in support of DACA, outside of the White House in Washington on Sept. 5, 2017. Colleges and universities nationwide are stepping up efforts to help the students who are often called 'Dreamers,' after the Trump administration announced plans to end that federal program protecting immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

In 1776, this country was founded on a revolutionary proposition, namely that “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

All other nations were founded on some form of shared identity. We are the only nation ever founded on a shared belief. If you believe in the Declaration of Independence's statement, then you are welcomed to these shores.

The decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) thus confronts us with what is inherently a moral question: Do we, as a nation, still believe in our founding principle?

Reasonable men can differ over whether the Obama administration exercised the authority to initiate DACA wisely or constitutionally. But we must not differ on the moral aspect to the position now taken by the Trump administration.

Of the approximately 800,000 “Dreamers,” only about 25 percent will be eligible for the two-year extension because their status expires before March 5, 2018. The status of the other 75 percent will expire after that date, and they will not be eligible for another two-year extension. This includes blameless people from all walks of life.

The administration has “punted” this conundrum to Congress. Sen. Pat Toomey and Reps. Tim Murphy and Keith Rothfus now confront the moral imperative to offer the promise of the Declaration to the Dreamers.

There is no middle ground here. Either Toomey, Murphy and Rothfus act morally or immorally. The Dreamers must be allowed to fulfill the promise of the Declaration.

Eric K. Falk, North Huntingdon

Monday, Sept. 11

Troopers' integrity

Regarding the news story “State police: Trooper at fault in fatal Ligonier crash” : Sometimes an agency has to have enough courage to do the right thing, no matter the results.

It must have been hard for the advanced accident investigation team to draw that conclusion; it must have been hard for command to swallow. They could have said or done anything; they could have sat on it. They did not. They did what the people of the commonwealth expected of them: They had integrity.

Hats off to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Harold Johnson, Hempfield

Sunday, Sept. 10

Message, not language

The article “Billy Porter apologizes for ‘dropping F-bombs' in front of kids at concert” missed the mark, as did his feeble Facebook attempt to apologize.

The crowds attending these Hartwood Acres events have grown significantly over the years. Headliners such as Porter are not the main reason this destination is so popular.

Family and friends come in fellowship as part of summer Sundays.

They gather to enjoy an evening of music, sharing food and conversation with each other and strangers. Young children are often as well-behaved as the pet dogs. Norman Rockwell would have an endless supply of inspiration for his canvas.

The problem was not Porter's F-bombs. It was his anger and hatred spewed at the president — and those who voted for him — to whom he even dedicated a specific song.

He ranted on about the KKK and white supremacy — in front of a predominantly white crowd of supporters?

A few near the stage cheered; many more throughout the field jeered. Most people sat quietly in stunned disbelief at the ugly display.

I, like many, decided to leave, turning my back on him as he performed. I did not see any smiling faces in the crowd.

I attended the Ohio Players, Bootsy Collins and Con Funk Shun shows at Hartwood, and they were incredibly uplifting events. Those artists welcomed everyone, and in the crowd was a special place to be.

Porter has a great deal to learn from all of them, especially if he wants people to buy his music.

Joe Schmidt, Lower Burrell

Tuesday, Sept. 12

Benefits here and now

Natural gas is playing a big role in our economic resurgence. It's hard to miss all the activity locally. From continued development of the “cracker” plant in Beaver County to new construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, our region is on the move.

Pipelines remain the safest and most efficient way to transport our energy resources to supply consumers, manufacturers and big and small businesses alike. Mariner East 2 represents one of the biggest economic opportunities our state has seen in generations — a $3 billion investment that will create over 30,000 jobs and generate about $1 million in annual pipeline-related tax revenue for Pennsylvania.

Pipelines also are the critical link behind the delivery of the vast energy resources below our feet to processors like the cracker plant and ultimately to a variety of different end markets for use.

Projects that were just ideas a few years ago are becoming a reality today. The benefits aren't off in some distant location or far off in the future. They are happening right now, and we're all better off for it.

Chad Jones, South Side

The writer is executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Wednesday, Sept. 13

Speed traps save lives

Some people are upset that state troopers used PennDOT equipment to trap speeders on Route 66 in Washington Township ( “Troopers in disguise nab speeders on Route 66” ). I applaud what they did. A police car would have enabled the speeders to slow down, but now 25 people might think twice before speeding again.

I'm glad the police are thinking outside the box in order to stop these morons from killing innocent people. Anymore, it's like driving in the Indy 500 or on the Autobahn in Germany. The speeding, texting and ignoring of stop signs and traffic lights scares me to death, and it should scare you as well.

Watch “Live PD” on A&E to see what our men and women in blue deal with on a daily basis; it will give you a new perspective on how dangerous is it is for all police.

How can you find fault with something that saves lives? Instead of criticizing, send a pizza or a sandwich tray to your local department to thank them for their hard work. They put their lives on the line for us every single day.

Christine Cimino-Schubert, Lower Burrell

Thursday, Sept. 14

Climate is no ‘canard'

Regarding the editorial “Climate change or canard?” : Climate change is no canard, and Hurricane Harvey helps to demonstrate the reason why.

Heat is energy. The Earth is getting warmer as a result of climate change. Oceans act as heat sinks. The Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest heat sinks for atmospheric heat.

An example of what happened when Hurricane Harvey traveled over the Gulf of Mexico can be found on your stove. When you boil water, you are putting energy into the water in the form of heat. This energy is what causes the water to boil.

The warmer water gets, the more water vapor will accumulate in the atmosphere above it. As the moisture-laden water passes onto land, it tends to cool down. As air cools down, it holds less water, which is released as rain.

Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases that trap and increase the amount of heat energy in the atmosphere. This will result not in more hurricanes, but more hurricanes with destructive power similar to Harry, Sandy and Katrina.

Finding ways to encourage less use of fossil fuels is important. Programs such as Citizens Climate Lobby's carbon fee and dividend is one such way to do this.

Marc Yergin, Squirrel Hill

Friday, Sept. 15

Port Authority's fear campaign

It's clear from the article “Port Authority of Allegheny County would slash routes under budget proposal” that local transit officials are waging a fear campaign to raise taxes on working Pennsylvanians.

In July, Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Republicans agreed on a plan to increase taxes on utilities, cell phones and online purchases, and to borrow $1.2 billion. House Republicans rejected this and, after scrutinizing the state's multibillion-dollar reserve funds, developed the “Taxpayers' Budget.” The plan involves transferring $1.2 billion — just 13 percent of these funds — to the general fund and other provisions to avoid tax hikes or borrowing.

The Port Authority claims that the Taxpayers' Budget would cut $80 million from its operating funds. This is false. The Public Transportation Trust Fund has grown from $212 million in reserves in July 2014 to $478 million in reserves as of July 1. Clearly, this money has not been needed to pay mass transit bills in the past three fiscal years. Plus, the Republican proposal leaves over $120 million in the reserve fund.

Pennsylvanians are sick of the tax-and-spend approach in Harrisburg and the entitlement mentality of agencies like the Port Authority. The Taxpayers' Budget is a step in the right direction.

Colleen Hroncich, Grove City

The writer is a senior fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation .

Saturday, Sept. 16

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