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Immigration Debate

March 20, 1994

I agree with Elton Gallegly's "Column Right" (Commentary, March 13) insofar as the need to document the number of illegal aliens, or undocumented workers, if one prefers. We simply cannot put our head in the sand and pretend that we don't have a problem with the major drain on our welfare, education and medical systems caused by immigrants who have arrived in this country illegally.

Whether they are legal or illegal is, to a large extent, immaterial. It is against our moral standards to turn away those in need of medical care, regardless of their immigration status. The child becomes an American citizen at birth and is legally entitled to certain services. How can we afford to pay for this tremendous burden without federal assistance?

There is no doubt that illegal immigration is a federal problem. In many cases, assistance is federally mandated without provisions for federal funding. In any case, we will end up having to deny benefits to someone, if sufficient funds are not available.

We should start now by surveying the population to determine the number of illegal residents in California. One thing is certain: We will never be able to do this without a bipartisan effort. In order to accomplish this, we must stop pointing the finger of blame at one another. The important thing is to solve the problem.

BYRON SLATER, San Diego

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The recent tragic accident in which a truck full of illegal immigrants ran off the road and killed many of the occupants can be blamed both on those who crossed our border illegally and on the federal government.

The government entices people to come here illegally by its unwillingness to pass and fund the necessary legislation to enforce our immigration laws. That information spreads around the world with predictable results. To prevent this type of accident from continuing to happen, we should either throw open our border and invite the rest of the world to come on in or else put a stop to illegal immigration by whatever means are necessary.

A.L. TANNER, Irvine

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Politicians who drink the wine of corporate interests and sing their song discover that screaming "illegals" is more convenient than discussing the homeless, jobless and their voting record. Old folks who have forgotten that long ago they were the ones to be branded "foreigners" now demand the expulsion of those of ancient North American seed whose ancestors ruled this territory.

A few voices protest that these hard workers will not bankrupt us. Their labor produces value, they pay sales, gas and other hidden taxes, their low wages produce lower costs and lower prices for food, clothing, etc. and if they leave, no one will make a mad dash for the open jobs.

Why the influx? Why risk hardship, robbery and even death in order to slip into a country where undocumented aliens often sleep 10 to a room? They are driven by hopeless poverty and murderous repression, from Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, El Salvador and on and on. Countries with small wealthy elites whose military shows no mercy to the peasants.

Further research reveals U.S. corporate investment in these nations and a flow of funds and arms to them by this country in order to maintain the status quo. The Ft. Benning, Ga., Army school trains (these nations') officers. Here they learn "death squad tactics" and the art of subduing the field hands.

MAX ROBINSON, Los Angeles

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This letter is in response to the commentary by Wayne A. Cornelius titled "Border Control: Smoke, Mirrors" (March 14).

It is almost inconceivable that today, in one of the world's most civilized countries, there are still a few who believe that there are certain types and levels of crime that are acceptable.

Illegal immigration is illegal. It is a crime. A case could be made to mitigate the punishment for those who are violating our immigration laws, if they were fleeing from persecution or civil upheaval, but certainly not just to obtain a better way of life. This is the usual case for those coming from Mexico. To ignore any crime at the border is to invite disrespect for our laws and ultimately to encourage anarchy.

Where there are violations of law, the customary solution is to increase police personnel with the most advanced equipment. It makes sense to properly equip the Border Patrol so that they do their assigned duties more efficiently.

JESSE LAGUNA, Spring Valley

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The stadium lights along the Tijuana border lighting up the sky every night, costing U.S. taxpayers thousands of dollars, is a waste of time. It boggles the mind to think that we can stop a madman's army from invading Kuwait but can't stop unarmed peasants from invading our country.

T. DAWKINS, Huntington Park

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