Helping “Our Old and New Neighbors
by: WIN Leadership

     Though dominated by some citizens’ concerns – and even disruptive behavior – over Haitian immigrant issues, the Springfield City Commission’s September 19, 2023, meeting simultaneously included statements by additional citizens asking for greater understanding. One such statement, by WIN member Peg Foley, gave a fuller, kinder, and more rational perspective on the situation regarding the Haitians in our community. The entire text of Peg Foley’s remarks is included here:

“Thank you, members of the City Commission, for your public service and for providing a forum for us to express our concerns.


     At the last meeting, it seemed that many people in the audience held the view that most of the Haitian people in our community are here illegally. To the contrary, I believe that most of our Haitian neighbors have a lawful presence here.


     People of Haiti have been emigrating to the US for decades. Many have lawful status by becoming permanent residents and getting a green card. Many have entered the US and applied for asylum, and are permitted by law to stay until their case is decided. And, many are here under Temporary Protected Status—TPS. The US government initially designated Haiti for TPS in 2010 and has extended it multiple times, most recently in January this year. People who apply for and receive TPS are permitted by law to stay in the US and are authorized to work.


     So, what do we do when thousands of people arrive here in our community seeking a better life? (Just as my great grandparents did when they came from Ireland and Germany in the 1800s).


     Last week I heard a comment on the radio that made me think about our neighbors. “Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.”


     We do struggle.


     For years we have had neighbors in Springfield who struggle for safe neighborhoods, decent housing, nutritious food, and adequate health care. Now, we have new neighbors from Haiti who struggle for these same things—in addition to a new language, new customs, and new laws.


     I want to help our old and our new neighbors, and I look to our City Commission to lead us in this effort.


Thank you. 

Peg Foley


Thank you, Peg!

Your Fellow WIN Members