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Controlling Immigration

September 07, 1993

* As an ex-prosecutor for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, I'd like to believe that a counterfeit-proof Social Security card is the solution to the illegal alien problem ("Immigration Control: Doing It Right," editorial, Aug. 29). Even at an estimated $2.5 billion, it would be a bargain.

Alas, things are not so simple. As the editorial correctly notes, the employer sanctions law passed in 1986 is not working because of the easy availability of counterfeit documents which workers can present to employers. Once the only acceptable work document is a counterfeit-proof Social Security card, the counterfeit document problem will be solved, right?

Even assuming that the government can really make a counterfeit-proof card and that we can trust the government not to use such a card to invade everyone's privacy, one big problem remains. How will the Social Security Administration determine who is entitled to receive such a card?

Right now, U.S. citizens must show their birth certificates to obtain Social Security cards. Aliens must show their passports or birth certificates and a work document issued by the Immigration Service. The problem is that birth certificates are issued by each of the 50 states and over 180 different countries. Anyone can get anyone else's birth certificate and assume a new identity. And forging any of the various documents INS issues to show work authorization is child's play. Under The Times' proposal, the Social Security Administration would be inundated by phony documents.

Nice try, but the problem is not so simple.


Los Angeles

* Your suggestion for a tamper-proof Social Security card has some merit. As a farmer and employer I have to verify employment eligibility for all my workers when I hire them and have the documentation on file. The penalties for not doing so are already in place and I have no problem with increased enforcement of existing laws.

As to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown's proposal to seize the assets of employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, why not seize the assets and fire health care workers who treat illegal immigrants? Also include social workers who grant illegals welfare and unemployment and DMV employees who issue them a driver's license. Also what about teachers who teach them?



* In response to: "Wilson Risks His Latino Support," by Frank del Olmo, Commentary, Aug. 23:

Ask any American, including Latinos, if they oppose an "anti-immigrant" stance, and they'll obviously answer yes. After all, nearly all Hispanics are or have descended from recent immigrants to this country. Your column, however, misses the point. Gov. Wilson holds immigrants to this country in the highest esteem, and has repeatedly fought for their interests and concerns. What the governor opposes, however, is illegal immigration, and he has the support of the Hispanic community in this endeavor.

A recent California Field poll, for example, showed that 58% of Hispanic Californians believe illegal immigration "has an unfavorable effect on the state." Still more (65%) believe that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Californians who are already here. It is only a handful of activists, out of touch with the mainstream Hispanic community, who are opposing the governor's program. These activists are not considering what is best for California, but merely what serves their own limited political agendas and ideological biases.

As a Latino immigrant to this country, married to a Latina immigrant to this country, and a Republican, I can proudly say I support Gov. Wilson and applaud his efforts to bring the illegal immigration problem under control. His efforts will strengthen his support among Hispanics throughout the state, and will bring renewed growth and dynamism to California.


Chairman, California Republican Party


* Del Olmo warns that Wilson could "wind up with a political frying pan upside his head." Del Olmo also describes "Californians who vote" (as) "older, white and suburban" for the most part and "frightened Anglos." His tone is highly derogatory and he follows a stereotype of all non-Latinos as Anglos.

As for Gov. Wilson, if Del Olmo is correct about the risk of loss of Latino support, how refreshing to have an elected governor who offers proposals to protect his state and its citizens instead of only catering to political votes!


Laguna Niguel

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