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Enrique's Perilous Journey

October 12, 2002

I want to thank The Times for running the six-part series on Enrique (Sept. 29-Oct. 7). I have eagerly looked forward to each installment and appreciate the great writing by Sonia Nazario and the excellent photography by Don Bartletti. I was moved and touched by the harrowing experiences of Enrique and so many others who seek to find a better life. I expected other readers to be equally moved. The harsh letters to the editor have shocked me. What a contrast to the poor people in Veracruz who barely have enough to survive but still have the compassion to run out to the migrants and offer them food and warm clothing. These people understand that Enrique and the other immigrants are human beings, regardless of their legal status.

Lisa Alizadeh

San Clemente

*

I write to commend The Times for the extraordinary series "Enrique's Journey." This poignant story reveals the yearning of Enrique to find his mother, Lourdes, in El Norte and portrays the incredible risks and dangers he undertakes to be reunited with her.

But the series also highlights the desperate struggles and perils that thousands of poor people endure to find basic economic survival. It is tragic that woefully inadequate economic development in poorer countries such as Mexico and in Central America force so many Lourdeses and Enriques to leave their homeland in search of decent work. Until these countries are able to develop decent infrastructures, living-wage jobs and a host of educational and health-care opportunities, the poorest will place their lives at risk by finding their way to El Norte.

Over the years I have met many thousands of Lourdeses and Enriques here in Southern California, and I have the highest regard for their dedication, hard work and contributions to our overall economic success. They labor in our agricultural fields, they clean the hotel and motel rooms, they work in most restaurants and catering firms here, they sew our clothes, they look after children, they serve as our gardeners and they undertake many low-paying jobs so that the rest of us can have a decent standard of living--all the while paying their share of taxes. They deserve our gratitude, not our scorn.

These hard-working families work two and three minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet, and they do so without complaint. I am proud of them, their commitment to family values and their determination to make our community a place of opportunity for all.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony

Archbishop of Los Angeles

*

As an immigrant myself I feel I have some right to respond to your unabashed support for the violation of this nation's right to maintain our borders. My family and I left our country 40 years ago, fleeing political repression and a newly installed communist government. It still took my parents almost a year to get the legal paperwork so that we could leave and make a new life here in the U.S.

I fully support legal immigration, as it is an American tradition, not this rushing of our borders by anyone who decides he or she wants to live here. Your series is a blatant attempt to tug at the heartstrings of your readers with touching, politically correct articles condoning the violation of our laws. As our public hospitals and schools continue to be overrun with people who are here illegally, it may someday soon dawn on us all as taxpayers that we have had enough!

J.M. Lopez

Canoga Park

*

I read the letters on Enrique (Oct. 7) and I am upset. It seems as if the readers who condemn illegal immigrants are always looking for scapegoats for their economic problems. It seems as if all these readers are quick to blame illegal immigrants for all the problems of poverty, clean drinking water, electricity, etc. Come on!

How do illegal immigrants affect your drinking water and electricity bills? I am sure those same readers are quick to be hypocrites and would use or have used the services of illegal immigrants in the past. Either using a nanny or paying a couple of dollars to have them paint, mow or clean up yards.

Everyone deserves a chance at freedom and the good things that come with it. We are here to make a living, not to make your water and electric bills higher. I should know, I was an illegal immigrant myself at one point and can relate to Enrique's story.

Mario Beltran

Van Nuys

*

The INS has recently informed me that it will take about 2 1/2 years for me to bring my wife to this country. Could part of the reason for the length of this process be the amount of time they must squander on dealing with illegal aliens? Why has The Times found it necessary to publish a how-to guide (complete with colorful maps, helpful hints on avoiding police and detailed descriptions of landmarks) for criminals? Thanks a lot, L.A. Times.

Ron Severeid

West Los Angeles

*

The amount of time, effort and space that you spent on presenting Enrique's travels was impressive. It would be nice if you could expend the same resources to provide an in-depth article on the effects of illegal aliens on California's housing, schools, health care, crime, economy, taxes, etc. That would really be impressive and a lot more germane to most Californians.

Jack Bendar

Pacific Palisades

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