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Immigration and Jobs

August 18, 1994

I'm offended by the Federation for American Immigration Reform's attacks on immigrants. The amnesty study cited by Dan Stein (Commentary, Aug. 8) covered immigrants who came here illegally, but he uses the results to tarnish all immigrants. He tries to tell us that foreign workers, pulled in by the invisible hand of the market, don't have the appropriate skills. Hogwash! Immigrants don't throw accountants out of their jobs. They obviously have the right skills, or they wouldn't find work.

When Ira Mehlman's slippery piece (Aug. 9) tries to take on the "myth" of the tax boon, he starts by getting his facts wrong: He won't face the fact that illegal immigrants pay millions into Social Security, with no hope of ever getting any back! As for the legal immigrants, who also pay more in federal taxes than they get back, the worst he can say is this: "That's true of almost everyone." In other words, they contribute to society just like citizens.

FAIR's answer to our nation's problems is to blame everything on foreigners. This racist theory encourages simplistic thinking and intolerant attitudes. My parents are immigrants. I'm proud of them, and it burns me up when FAIR tries to tar and feather them.

MIGUEL MUNOZ

Pasadena

I was very pleased to read Stein's fine column regarding the disastrous impact of the federal government's "open door" immigration policy on Southern California. As highly skilled, taxpaying workers leave the state, to be replaced by poorly educated immigrants, our economic base, education system, and quality of life will continue to decline. Because a large percentage of U.S. immigrants choose to settle in California, Uncle Sam effectively forces the area to accept them at a far greater rate than it can reasonably assimilate them.

Having gone from the "brain drain" of the 1960s to the "welfare drain" of the 1990s, the United States needs immigration reform that represents the rights and interests of its own citizens. Gov. Pete Wilson, you have my vote!

JOHN A. ELDON

Encinitas

Stein omits deliberately the generosity of the "unskilled, poorly educated" immigrants who not only are willing to perform the hardest and worst-paid jobs in our community but contribute to our society with family values, determination and strong religious beliefs, among other things.

The article mentioned "our needs as a nation"; I wonder what our real needs as a nation are. The essential needs are those that unskilled, poorly educated immigrants are able to help us to achieve by their hard-working example. It is that which will inspire us to continue living our life as human beings. It is obvious that without a foundation of understanding, tolerance and solidarity, sooner or later the "perfect society" that only accepts and welcomes educated people will turn into a very cold place to live.

I would like to thank those that, regardless of legal status, are doing hard work for us, receive a very low salary and still do not complain: nannies, agricultural workers, workers in factories, carwashes, restaurants. Stop and think what our life would be without them.

JUAN A. LAGUNA

Newport Beach

Mehlman and FAIR need to find a substantially bigger "ledger" as they calculate the costs versus the benefits of immigration in the United States.

In this discussion it is important to remember that the United States makes up 6% of the world's population and consumes 40% of the world's resources. The 119,231 refugees legally admitted to the United States in 1993 constituted significantly less than .5% of the estimated 16,255,000 refugees in the world last year (World Refugee Survey, U.S. Committee for Refugees). Adding the 200,000 undocumented immigrants who are estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to enter the United States annually only marginally improves that sorry record.

The world is indeed fortunate today that enormously less well-endowed countries such as Tanzania and Zaire do not calculate their global responsibilities in the manner advocated by Mehlman and FAIR. Unfortunately, many other countries in Western Europe and the developed world do gauge their responsibilities by the example set by the United States.

THE REV. DONALD L. SMITH

Coordinator for Specialized Ministries

Presbyterian Church, Synod of Southern

California and Hawaii

Los Angeles

I was pleased to read the commentaries concerning immigration and population in the Aug. 10 issue. The issues of population growth and immigration are so tightly bound with one another that they cannot be separated in any honest debate. It is time we forget about race in these matters and consider the effects of runaway population growth on our quality of life.

As a worldwide phenomenon, legal immigration seems to be vanishing. Most other developed countries have extremely tight immigration policies, excluding nearly everyone except refugees and those who do not need to work to live.

Before we commit ourselves to remaining the exception, we should consider the possible results down the road.

JAMES van SCOYOC

Los Angeles

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