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Fear And Reality

December 24, 1989

Your story was both heartwarming and frustrating. I am myself an immigrant, and the stories you included brought back memories of similar situations in the life of my family and the many families who came from Europe in the '50s.

We also had no money and nothing but our bare hands. However, if you were to write our stories, there would be no mention of affirmative action, legal aid, health services, loans, bilingual education and lobbying. Yet we all managed to create good lives for ourselves and, what's more, are loyal, proud citizens of the United States.

While the immigrants whose stories appeared in your article have commendable attitudes, I wonder why you did not interview the "other" new immigrants. We have all experienced them--the rude, surly, pushy or otherwise unpleasant immigrants who seem to lack all respect for this country, its people and customs.

My theory is that we have made it too easy for them. By providing too many services and benefits we have taught them that it's all here for the taking, and there is no giving required.

Your article quoted a Persian poet as saying "a human being is like a nail. The more you hammer on top of it the more it is driven in and becomes stronger." That may be the approach we need to produce a better citizen. It has worked before.

HELEN GRAF, Glendale

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