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Fear And Reality

December 24, 1989

Kotkin condescendingly derides longtime Southern California residents who want to preserve the way of life they have worked hard to build. He portrays those who want the psychic reassurance of understanding the language and customs of their own neighborhoods as small-minded at best and mean-spirited bigots at worst. Those who bemoan the ever-increasing congestion and environmental degradation of Los Angeles are seen as little more than Luddites trying to stand in the way of progress.

Perhaps, as the public opinion poll Kotkin cites might indicate, the 57% of Angelenos who think there is too much immigration to their city do not believe that what is happening in Southern California is progress. Not everyone would agree that replacing strawberry fields with dim-sum restaurants and noodle houses is necessarily an enhancement of their quality of life. Some people might argue that being squeezed out of the housing market is not in their best interests. There are probably even some who don't think the revival of a sweatshop industry constitutes economic progress.

In Kotkin's view, the desires of people in Mexico or the Philippines who would like to live in Los Angeles must be given equal consideration to those of Americans. One of the basic principles of the American way of life is that when 57% of the public (an electoral landslide) expresses an opinion, their wishes should be heeded. We like to call it democracy.

DANIEL A. STEIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM, Washington, D.C.

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