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Legal Immigration--Including That of Asians--Is Not the Problem

August 29, 1993

* The "Coming to America" (Aug. 22) poll question, where 49% of Orange County residents support and 44% oppose stopping legal immigration for three years, shows that perhaps they have lost touch with their American roots. It is obvious that illegal immigration is a problem, especially in Southern California, but legal immigration has never been our problem. After all, we have all immigrated to this country at some time in our family history.

There are many decent, hard-working people immigrating illegally because it is much easier than legal immigration. We need to make crossing our borders illegally more difficult.

The immigrants who abide by our laws are exactly the kind of people that we need as new Americans. They bring a richness of culture diversity that helps longtime California residents to better understand the world around us. Many legal immigrants are coming to join their families here. Others are bringing their entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and innovative ideas, because it is in our country where their dreams can become a reality.

Let's welcome the legal immigrants who are respecting our laws, and give them the chance to become proud new Americans. Let's stay focused on stopping illegal immigration, in order to provide hard-working old and new Americans the opportunity to realize our dreams.


Laguna Beach

* Regarding Barbara Smith's comment in The Times Poll on Asian Americans (" Most Asians Think Well of O.C., and Vice Versa" Aug. 20): "They come in with their money and buy up the neighborhood. . . . I don't want to sound like a horrible person or anything, but that's what I'm seeing.")

Though Ms. Smith may not have meant to sound "horrible," the fact remains that at least to this Asian-American, she did. Inherent in her statement is the attitude that the "American Dream" does not apply to Asians, or for that matter, to any minority group. The message seems to be that even if Asians work hard, we are not welcome to buy things, especially not property, with our hard earned money.

Since when does the American dream discriminate? Call me old-fashioned, but I was raised with the offbeat notion that if I worked hard enough and long enough and if I was persistent enough and determined enough, I would and could do anything I aspired to.

I was also raised to believe that if someone earned their money within the bounds of the legal system, then it was their business how and where they spent the money, provided that it was also within the bounds of the law.

Every group brings to a community and to a country its own flavor and ideas. In this country where Japan lives across the street from England who lives next door to Kenya and Iran, there is no room for intolerance of things that are different. PEGGY CHEN


* Sal Juarez should be the poster-boy for responsible immigration policy in the United States. Times columnist Dana Parsons perhaps unwittingly became an aegis to the heart of the issue ("On Immigration, Wilson's Talking Sal Juarez's Language" Aug. 13).

How, in good conscience, can those of us born in the United States ignore the commitment and dedication of responsible, legal immigrants like Juarez. He complied with immigration policy and labored successfully within the social and economic structure of California for two decades before the Great Society social programs of the 1960s opened the flood gates for granting unearned benefits to those violating immigration law.

How can we dispute Juarez's claim that the flood of humanity over our borders is primarily instigated by the availability of and access to social benefits. He, if anyone, should know. Giving away what Juarez and other law-abiding people have worked hard to earn is tantamount to thumbing our noses at the toil and achievements of all immigrants who play by the rules.

The focus of immigration dialogue should be redirected from the "shortcut to freedom and entitlement" crowd to those, like Juarez, who speak with genuine authority and hard-earned credentials.

Some of us hear your voice crying in the wilderness, Sal Juarez, and, on behalf of other United States-born citizens, I apologize for our government's lack of respect and sensitivity to your achievements. We're proud you're a fellow citizen.



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