Many years ago, in my junior history class at East High in Salt Lake City, my teacher Mr. Archbold described to us the horrific mistreatment of the Jews in Germany and the countries it occupied in the 1930s and ’40s.

Relatively few of those oppressed people ever made a serious attempt to escape from the terrible oppression. Most remained in their homes, refusing to accept the stories of atrocity being spread about the Nazis, even as their fellow Jews, as well as Gypsies and homosexuals, disappeared from their neighborhoods.

I was aghast, not only by the horror of the Holocaust, but also by the incredible naiveté and denial exhibited by those who refused to leave. They trusted their neighbors and fellow Germans. I thought they should have run. They should have tried to escape. But to where?

Today, thousands of people in several Central American countries are being tortured, extorted and killed by their own governments and by murderous drug gangs within their own communities. Some of the most motivated and bravest among them attempt to escape the misery and tyranny and oppression and seek solace in the United States (the shining city on the hill). Some walk a thousand miles or more in an attempt to find some sort of hope and freedom that they would never be afforded if they stayed home.

How can we, a nation of immigrants, deny to those desperate people the possibility of a safe future for themselves and the children they carry or walk with?

J.C. Smith, St. George