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Series on Aliens

June 19, 1988

Turning the facts on their head, your recent series on illegal aliens in North San Diego County managed to create the distorted impression that a minuscule element within a 5% population of "have nots" is causing such havoc in the lives of North County's "haves," that the only alternative is for them to turn vigilante in an effort to eradicate what they view as brown blight from their midst. On balance, the series would have been comical had it not been so destructive.

Completely ignoring the economic dynamics that have produced the oversupply of farm labor enjoyed by the North County agricultural industry for decades, and the national embarrassment that attends the deplorable and inhuman conditions endured by its victims, the series instead focuses on the resultant annoyance and inconvenience experienced by area residents who would rather keep the Third World out of Sea World.

The incidence of nuisance and inconvenience described at the beginning of the series soon degenerated into alarmist blather about the safety of Anglo women and children, although the only actual episode of violent crime cited (repeatedly) was the one in Poway. But alas, we learn that our law enforcement authorities are powerless to protect them. This is only because these "aliens" are, according to a veteran of a chemical company, "unidentifiable, uncontactable and unaccountable."

Despite acknowledgements that there are few statistics on the number of crimes committed by illegal aliens, and that "no single topic . . . has raised tempers quite like alien crime," the articles proceed to give big play to the speculation of law enforcement officials that aliens commit a percentage of crimes far in excess of their numbers, along with the perception of homeowners that aliens are committing an increasing number of criminal acts in North County.

Statistics cleverly used to bolster the clearly unsubstantiated speculation and perception include: 1) the over-representation of aliens in the Vista jail inmate population (contradicting the earlier point made that aliens are less likely to be caught and punished for their crimes); 2) the mention that 20% of probation reports done for Vista courts "involve" Spanish-monolingual persons (whether they are involved as victims, relatives or the perpetrator of crime is conveniently omitted), and 3) the percentage of Hispanic (regardless of legal status) arrests in the city of Carlsbad.

Last, but not least, is the point that residential burglary, the felony "most commonly linked to aliens," may be further facilitated by the previously unheard of phenomenon of door-to-door job search by aliens. If I didn't know better I, as a resident of North County, would be left with the feeling that I must fight back or be doomed. The avenue for fighting back is revealed in the last article by courageous neighborhood heroes determined to exterminate these pests by using the ultimate weapon: starvation. Since no one can tell a good alien from a bad one, the shotgun approach must be used. If a few citizens or legal residents suffer in the process, so be it.

Heaven help us, because thanks to the L.A. Times, we can no longer trust each other. We'll have to go back to Square 1, before Ron Packard, before Clyde Romney, and before Susan Golding. Our only hope is that the L.A. Times didn't finish the job the others started.

LYDIA A. GONZALEZ

Vista

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