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U.S. Must Rethink How It Treats Immigrants

January 05, 2003

Re "U.S. Is Right to Take Precautions With Muslim Men on Temporary Visas," Dec. 28:

I note with interest the letters defending the INS decision to detain those of Middle Eastern origin who voluntarily reported to the government. Though I do not defend the practice of entering or staying in this country illegally, I cannot help but wonder if these same people would be so supportive of the INS actions if those being detained were, of say, British origin.

Over the years, I have known British, Irish and Canadian citizens who have intentionally overstayed visas too. Are we willing to detain them in camps also?

Detention centers that fail to safeguard the most basic rights and deny detainees contact with the outside world can only lead us down a path paved by Germany in World War II. It would be shameful for the U.S. to follow in those footsteps.

Sandi Cain

Laguna Beach

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Many years ago when I became a U.S. citizen, I had the misfortune of having to deal with the rude and impolite people who staff the counters at the INS. These small people with their big egos, which have been artificially inflated by a sense of power, tend to treat most everyone as a criminal or wrongdoer.

I suppose their logic is that whatever country you are coming from, the treatment you get here is better than your country of origin. While I don't debate this for a second, my question is simply this: Must you also stoop to that level, or can you not be a kind human being like the rest of Americans?

If the treatment meted out by the INS to folks who voluntarily came to register last month is any kind of a track record, one can only blame these bureaucrats when countless thousands will simply not show up in future "registration efforts." These people who showed up were clearly not criminals. What criminal would voluntarily show up?

Are the people who work at the INS devoid of pragmatic thinking?

Sy Hussaini

Anaheim

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