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Learning the Language of Migrant Health

July 12, 2002

"Visa Cut Threatens Rural Clinics" (July 7) misses the real story. Migrant workers face a shortage of medical care because too few Spanish-speaking Americans have trained as physicians, not because too few physicians might emigrate from India. Congress could have trained minority citizens as physicians. Instead it imported foreign doctors through special visa programs.

Why offer affirmative action to foreigners instead of our own people? We import physicians who struggle to learn not just one but two languages, both English and Spanish, in order to serve rural clinics.

Shortsighted, yes, but this fits a pattern. Whenever Congress spots a real or imagined labor shortage, it plugs the gap with foreigners. I wonder why Congress thinks California needs millions of immigrants. Is it because Californians are unteachable bumpkins or because our state suffers a chronic shortage of population?

Kenneth Pasternack

Santa Barbara

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