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President talks up local man's letter

A Dawson County man made national political history, of sorts, when President Obama talked about his letter at a recent speech in Chicago.

It was really cool to hear the president say my name, Dawson County resident Brett Duncan said.

The father of four was inspired to email the president after listening to a short speech the president gave about immigration.

Im pro-immigration, and Im very Republican, Duncan said. So that kind of puts me at odds with some people. We have an adopted son, Yared, from Ethiopia, and it was extremely difficult to get him here. We had to jump through so many hoops.

Duncan and his wife, Trina, adopted 8-year-old Yared two years ago. The couple had to make two trips to Ethiopia to complete paperwork and make legal arrangements to bring their son home.

Duncan said he didnt think much about it when he sent the president a letter, figuring hed be lucky if the president even saw it.

I was really surprised when his speech writer, David Litt, called me, Duncan said. I think the president wanted to hear from a conservative on immigration. Some folks, even the president, just need encouragement.

Respecting the office of the president is something Duncan has always done, he said.

One person can make a difference, especially if youre encouraging, Duncan said. I dont agree with the politics and all these heated attacks. Aside from that, I see a good family man with a wife and two children. People have a lot more in common with each other than not.


Multiple mission trips abroad helped Duncan understand what its like to be a stranger in a strange land.

Believe me, I know what its like to be a foreigner, he said. I appreciated the way people treated me. They treated me with respect. So I tried to step lightly.

When asked about the presidents plans to issue millions of green cards to illegal immigrants, Duncan said hes in favor.

Its unconscionable to talk about deporting the parents of children who were born here, he said. We are a nation of immigrants.

Duncan, employed at Duncan Exterminating, said that through his work, he is frequently exposed to hard-working, first-generation immigrants.

What I see when I go into their homes is theyre no different than I am, Duncan said. They love their families, and they are working hard to make a good life for them.

And, referring to his son, Yared, Duncan talks about love.

Our goal is to raise Yared to love all people the way God does, he said. The more people get to know each other, the less racism and prejudice you have.


President Obama referred directly to Duncans emailed letter during his speech Nov. 25 at the Copernicus Center, Chicago.

As you can imagine, Ive gotten a lot of letters and lot of emails about immigration, The President said. And some have said it was a mistake for me to act, but then others remind me of why I had to. One letter I got last week came from Brett Duncan, of Dawsonville, Georgia.

And Brett is a Republican, and so he doesnt really agree with me about anything.

His ancestors came from Scotland before the Civil War, so his immigration status is pretty much settled. But hes done missionary work overseas. He knows what its like to be a stranger. And over the years hes gotten to know a lot of the new immigrants in his community, and heres what he said. He said, Their children are as American as I am. It would be senseless to deport their parents. It would be bad for America. I believe, Brett wrote, that a human being, created in the very image of All Mighty God is the greatest resource we have in our country.

Eight-year-old Yared attends Blacks Mill Elementary in Dawson County.

The faculty and staff have been so kind and helpful to him since he arrived in this country, that we could never thank them enough, Duncan said. The principal, Cindy Kinney, has gone out of her way to ensure Yared would acclimate well at the school, and we are so thankful for her, as well as her outstanding staff.

Its a blessing to be raising our children in this wonderful community, and were thankful for the people in our lives.

Duncan is the great-nephew of long-time Dawson County resident, Helen Taylor.