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Education Levels of Latino Immigrants

August 11, 1996

Your Aug. 5 editorial on the results of the Rand study on the wage gap between Latin American immigrants and American-born citizens is disturbing. As usual, all Latin Americans are thought of as a homogeneous group, when in fact we are not.

I personally disagree that the education level in my native Venezuela does not compare favorably with that of the U.S. To obtain a high school diploma in my country, one must complete five years of mathematics, three of chemistry, three of physics, five of biology, five of English, five of Castilian, in addition to humanities, social science and a senior project. The school day started at 8 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.

I have a master's degree in mathematics and teach at a community college. Many of my students are products of the U.S. education system, and have difficulty with eighth-grade-level mathematics.

If you could make a distinction between rural Mexican immigrants and all others, it would be appreciated.

EDUARDO GARCIA

Los Angeles

* Wayne A. Cornelius (Commentary, Aug. 5) pounces on Rep. Elton Gallegly's prediction that barring illegal alien children from public schools will "deter potential unauthorized migrants by eliminating the 'magnet' of free education." Cornelius goes on to say, "There is not a shred of reliable evidence that supports [this] expectation."

How could there be? The idea has never been tested. However, common sense tells us that the lowered prospects for their children might dissuade a good many parents from attempting to come north.

HUGH BURR

Chula Vista

* Finally a reasonable suggestion in Adela de la Torre's approach to solving the problem of educating the innocent children of undocumented immigrants (Commentary, July 31). It places responsibility for the costs of this education on the backs of employers who, if not promoting illegal immigration, certainly support it by providing the incentive of employment.

ROBERT D. COUSINEAU

San Gabriel

* Peter Skerry's Aug. 4 Opinion piece asks, "Why separate legal, illegal immigrants?" Skerry goes on to say that after all, illegal immigrants come to America for the same reason as legal immigrants come.

I am waiting for the next story in the series, "Why separate bank robbers from bank customers? After all, they both went into the bank for the same reason, to get money."

For those without a dictionary, "legal" means "in conformity with or permitted by law" and "illegal" means "prohibited by law." There is a difference, whether the words are applied to people who come to our country, or people who visit our banks.

JAMES T. HUMBERD

La Quinta

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