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Immigrants Used as Officials' Scapegoats

August 31, 1997

* A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Citizenship Fair at Oxnard College. After months of planning and after a long day of helping eager, lawful permanent residents to complete the beginning stages of the naturalization process, I was hopeful for those people wishing to fully participate in American society. Overall, I believed the Citizenship Fair to be a positive and constructive event.

Unfortunately, the following morning when I read the newspaper I was quite disappointed (but not surprised) that a local elected official chose to put a negative spin on an event associated with empowering immigrants. This official made comments such as "explain to people that there is more to being a citizen than a welfare check."

Despite claims to the contrary, it is clear that too many elected officials not only are against illegal immigrants but all immigrants.

Throughout the last few years, immigrants have been unfairly blamed for virtually everything perceived wrong with our society. But yet, lawful immigrants who seek to empower themselves through peaceful and lawful means are looked upon with suspicion and are accused of naturalizing for the wrong reasons. As many elected officials have used immigrants as scapegoats for their political gain, these same weak-minded officials now are troubled as these same scapegoats empower themselves.

What a radical idea, people peacefully and lawfully taking steps to empower themselves. Democracy requires participation from the populace, newly naturalized citizens included.

MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ

Director of Community

Development

El Concilio del Condado de Ventura

Oxnard

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