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Confronting the Problems of Illegal Immigration

May 24, 2003

Re "Confronting 'Unmeltable Ethnics,' " Commentary, May 20: If, as Ernest Lefever asserts, many Latino immigrants are "unmeltable," maybe that's a result of the chilly reception afforded them by the U.S. government. Given that illegal immigration will persist as long as there is a significant disparity in opportunity and prosperity between the U.S. and our neighbors, perhaps we need to question whether policies that shunt these individuals into underground economies and isolate them from the mainstream serve to alleviate or exacerbate all the jingoistic fears raised by Lefever.

You want immigrants to learn English? Give them the opportunity to compete in a job market where English is required. They will learn. You want to get immigrants off welfare? Give them the opportunity to make a living wage. They will work. When I was a child, the American dream was still big enough to embrace anyone who desired it. When did that change? And, perhaps more ominously, why?

Bob Gookin

Marina del Rey

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Lefever's comments somehow linking the deaths in Texas to bilingual education are absurd. The notion that ending bilingual education would in any way ease our illegal-immigrant problem is ridiculous. Bilingual education does not, as Lefever implies, "assault" English or divide the country, and it is certainly not why immigrants from south of the border come here.

His comparisons of today's immigrants to those from Europe a century ago only emphasize his simplistic and antiquated view. He's right about one thing: There are no easy answers in sight. But ending programs that are designed to help immigrant students assimilate more quickly into our society is totally off the mark.

Rachel Fernandez

Irvine

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Re "Slow-Motion Carnage at the Border," Commentary, May 18:

Apologists for illegal immigration such as Frank del Olmo consistently use the mantra "menial jobs U.S. citizens won't accept" to justify illegal immigration as a necessary economic evil. Please explain this canard to unemployed working-class Americans displaced by cheap labor in the hotel, restaurant, construction and apparel sectors as well as to the squeezed-out middle class supporting a "safety net" that has become a spider's web of dependency and deceit.

Or better yet, rather than base an economic model on such assumptions -- a model wherein Americans are deemed incapable of feeding, housing and clothing themselves without trailer-loads of smuggled assistance -- commission a study to find out how Americans, rather than those mouthpieces for callous and corrupt foreign governments, feel about the issue of immigration, illegal or otherwise.

You might find some enlightening responses. After all, it is our country.

Kevin C. Glynn

Los Angeles

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Re "Mother Remembers 'Inseparable' Pair," May 17: It is heartbreaking to read once again of the grief caused to families by the deaths of illegals making their way to the United States from Mexico for jobs. The blame for these deaths rests on the employers who violate the laws of America by hiring the illegals, the law enforcement system of the U.S. that does little or nothing to discourage such lawbreaking by employers and the American people who in the past have often risen up in protest when industries are raided by law enforcement to round up illegal hires.

If there were no jobs, the people would not risk their lives to come here.

Shirley E. Roth

Fountain Valley

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