Letter: Let's welcome Ukrainian war refugees

"Reaching our hands across the ocean to the many Ukrainians in need, will be an act of sisterly and brotherly empathy from our state as we invite them to join us," writes Fargo resident Paul Jensen.

Letter to the editor FSA

President Joe Biden’s proposal to offer 100,000 displaced Ukrainians entry to the United States would be a welcoming outreach for a population that is yet again being abused through acts of war in their homeland.

Thousands of people have already lost their lives to a senseless war, based on ideological argument and certain levels of empire-building ambitions. With little promise of the situation changing rapidly in Ukraine, the pressures are increasing on western democracies to live up to their promises of providing aid and refuge.

Sen. Tim Mathern, in a recent article in The Forum suggested North Dakota should embrace 10,000 of the displaced Ukrainians to our state, with the knowledge that a significant number of North Dakota families themselves in the past originated from Ukraine, commonly known as Germans from Russia. We actually have a library at North Dakota State University, led by Michael M. Miller, who for years has done an incredible effort to document and preserve the Germans from Russia Heritage collection.

“Please arrange for more persons from Ukraine to come to North Dakota. Please develop options including a fast-track path for those fleeing the Russian invasion, family connections, and a special admission process into the US based on humanitarian grounds. North Dakota is ready to help these people in this time of great tragedy," Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said in a letter to Gov. Doug Burgum and President Joe Biden.

About 10,000 Ukrainians settled in western North Dakota from about 1896 to 1899 and there is good reason to believe that another 10,000 should be a welcome addition to our state this time around. However, it will demand we coordinate our efforts and make good investments in these people, making them feel welcome and becoming productive while they are here. This will form a basis for a future exchange of knowledge and growing business between our state and Ukraine.

Ukrainians are generally well educated and will be an excellent addition to our industries, the general services sectors and farming. For a large part, they can become instantly productive. Reaching our hands across the ocean to the many Ukrainians in need, will be an act of sisterly and brotherly empathy from our state as we invite them to join us.


North Dakota needs to grow its communities and state economy. Ukrainians would be a boost from a part of the world with which we have so much ancestry in common. Let’s build a bridge for the temporary and permanently displaced, letting them make a new life here or preparing them to go back home and rebuild. It will be an investment in a future that will pay back for a long time to come.

Paul Jensen is a resident of Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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