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Immigration Controversy

August 25, 1993

* Once again I was disgusted when I read your editorial "Let's Not Panic" (Aug. 16) regarding illegal immigration. It should read "Let's Not Panic While California Goes Down the Tube."

As usual your left-wing socialist leaning praised Bill Clinton for his comments relative to our serious illegal immigration problem. Here is "Slick Willie" selling snake oil and you're so gullible to accept it all.

I also deeply resent your swipe at Gov. Pete Wilson and finding it necessary to malign his motives for bringing the illegal alien issue to the forefront.


Mission Viejo

* I read Richard Rodriguez's article "The Immigrant: To Work or Die in California" (Opinion, Aug. 15) with interest. I was amazed at his racist and condescending tone both toward American citizens and Mexican-born illegal immigrants.

Although he is careful never to refer to "Americans," that is what Californians are. He implies that Americans are lazy compared to the industrious Mexican gardeners, maids, and other illegal workers. That is a stereotyping of both illegals and Americans.

Further, Rodriguez fails to note the reason why there is such an abundance of illegal aliens "supporting our lifestyle." The reason is simply that these people are being exploited. But exploitation is good neither for the illegal immigrant nor for our society as a whole.

We agree on one point. The illegals aren't here simply for welfare, although that is a big attraction. They are here because our government (including Pete Wilson) doesn't strictly enforce labor laws. If employers had to pay the illegals a living wage, few would be hired since there would be no profit in doing so.


Los Angeles

* Rodriguez's column is one of the best articles I have ever read. I'd like to make another point to my American-born citizens that we immigrants, legal or illegal, come thousands of miles to this land of liberty to better our life, not to become a welfare recipient.

With or without the help of bilingual education, we will build our career here. With or without benefits of welfare programs, we will struggle to thrive here.



* Clearly, large numbers of illegal immigrants enter this country to find honest work. As a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, I can also tell you firsthand that illegal immigrants commit an inordinate amount of serious and often very violent crime.

This side of the illegal immigration story is largely ignored by Rodriguez and other writers who have attacked Gov. Wilson's proposals.



* We are the authors of the California auditor general's report concerning undocumented immigrant net costs in San Diego County. This report was referred to in the Aug. 13 article, "Studies Challenge View That Immigrants Harm Economy." The reference to our report was accurate, and we appreciate that. Unfortunately, certain other aspects of the article are misleading.

Most important, it is time to stop talking about all immigrants when a report is issued or a statement is made about undocumented immigrants. These two populations are becoming increasingly different from one another in terms of skill level, income generation, and net public costs and revenues. To cite conclusions drawn about the entire immigrant population when the subject is undocumented immigration can be a dangerous misuse of data and can do harm to what must become a very serious, very reasonable and very clear discussion of an increasingly critical public policy issue.

Second, the reporter's characterization that "a growing body of research challenges" the view that there is a cost to undocumented immigration is incorrect. The growing body of research is in the other direction--that there is a cost!

We would like to make one last point. It is vitally important to note that the Los Angeles County study cited as indicating a positive fiscal contribution by immigrants in the county of $1.85 billion omits a very large number of expenditures which could very possibly convert the positive $1.85 billion to a negative sum. The study includes revenues to the federal government, the state, Los Angeles County, and other local tax recipients, but it deducts from that sum only Los Angeles County costs and public education costs. The study omits all immigrant-related expenditures by the state in L.A. County, all such expenditures by the federal government in the county, and all such expenditures by cities within the county and, therefore, must be quoted advisedly.



San Diego State University

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