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The Real Issue Is a Matter of Widely Varying Opinions

July 10, 1996

This is in answer to Robin Abcarian's column of June 19 ("The Real Issue Is the Color of Their Skin").

It is really sad when an intelligent columnist has to add fuel to the fire and play the race card, which seems to be the politically correct thing to do.

Proposition 187 and all the things that are happening are not about race or color, but about language and the economy of California. Abcarian is too young to remember that white and black kids used to have entry level jobs, gardening and in restaurants. Many put themselves through school with these jobs.

Most of us feel sorry for the poor people coming here, but we cannot allow illegals to have legal rights.

It is senseless to lose our identity as an English-speaking people, of all colors, in one of the most beautiful states in the nation.


Rancho Mirage


Robin Abcarian's column regarding the press conference held by members of various immigration reform groups was very thought-provoking.

That these groups attribute California's economic and social decline in recent years to Hispanics is appalling. The idea of denying children, who are not legal citizens, an education, makes me ashamed to call myself an American. In a nation where our resources far surpass those of other industrialized nations, it is startlingly evident that our compassion and tolerance do not.

Now it's the Hispanics' fault that our schools are not providing the quality of education we all believe they should. Yet, many bond measures in California have failed, measures that would raise money for educational improvement. How many of these individuals who spew these negative, hateful messages volunteer time at their local schools, tutor kids, teach people to read, or better yet volunteer time in communities where the need is the greatest? How many of these individuals vote to increase teacher salaries? How many of these individuals truly look at the problems we are facing as a society and consider what they can do to make a difference?

As a person with a multiethnic background, I find it sad that as a nation, we have lost our heart.


Playa Del Rey


In "The Real Issue Is the Color of Their Skin," Robin Abcarian, like so many sympathizers or advocates of illegal immigrants, refuses to concede that the recent state and federal legislations are attempts to stem the massive and uncontrolled invasions by illegal immigrants. Instead, she attributes these measures to a "deep anxiety about the 'major culture' being overtaken as demographers predict, by one with a slightly darker complexion."

She justifies illegal immigrants' actions and their presence by claiming that they perform work that Americans refuse to do, but no short-term benefits like a cheap head of lettuce or $4-an-hour labor will compensate for the disasters that will befall a United States infiltrated by millions of hostile and unassimilated people who live among us, but not with us.


Los Angeles


Thank you, Robin Abcarian, for calling attention to what drives so many of the "populist" activists who pushed through Proposition 187 in 1994 and have since continued their anti-immigrant crusade. Those of us who have debated Barbara Coe, Glenn Spencer and other leaders of organizations like Voices of Citizens Together, have long been aware of the thinly veiled racial intolerance behind their rhetoric and its statistical "support."

Indeed, beyond lumping the entire Latino community--citizens and immigrants alike--under their targeted category of "the undocumented," some of these activists have even stated their sincere belief that Mexicans and Mexican Americans are engaged in a conspiracy to take over the state of California and return it to Mexico.

Thus, to those of us familiar with these "grass-roots activists," the racial paranoia Abcarian describes witnessing at the press conference she attended is not surprising. Far more puzzling is the media's near-total failure to have reported these extreme views previously. Such purveyors of paranoid racial fantasies have no legitimate role in reasoned public debate over important issues like immigration--an issue about which well-meaning people can, as Abcarian notes, disagree.

By ignoring the racial intolerance that motivates these activists and by sanitizing their anti-Latino message, the media legitimizes these extremists, anointing them inaccurately as rational, well-meaning advocates in a key policy debate. In the context of this long media silence, it is no wonder that Abcarian was surprised not to find smooth, sophisticated "finesse" at the press conference. I applaud Abcarian for her integrity and courage in exposing what she really found.


Regional Counsel

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

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