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Why Our Immigration Laws Are Failing Us

October 20, 2003

Re "Lift Shadow From Illegal Immigrants," by Tamar Jacoby, Commentary, Oct. 15: These people are not hiding in the shadows; they are riding in buses to Washington, D.C., in a mistaken analogy to the civil rights movement of the '60s. I don't know whom Jacoby has been listening to, but those whom I speak with have been discussing the problem of illegal immigration for 20 years, not three.

Amnesty and "regulated guest-worker programs" don't work -- they've been tried before. All they do is encourage more illegal immigration. Businesses and industries that profit from cheap labor and the politicians who court their funding have ignored the law and allowed this travesty to continue, and are now part of the "consensus" that Jacoby references. The reason our immigration laws are failing is because they are not enforced. The average, legal taxpayer and their children pay for the social services and cultural disaster that result. And just who would "regulate" a guest-worker program? The very same people who have failed to enforce immigration laws for generations.

Judy McLaughlin

Simi Valley

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Jacoby makes a number of assumptions. First, she states that businesses are "facing labor shortages." This is generally untrue, as unemployment is higher in the very agricultural areas where farmers are seeking more guest workers simply to keep the flow of cheap labor coming. She also claims that the undocumented are "working and paying taxes." Most of these workers are in minimum-wage jobs that pay little or no taxes, and many more are paid in cash, working "off the books." Most of their earnings are sent to relatives in their home countries.

Over 70% of those responding to numerous opinion polls have stated their opposition to another amnesty, like the one in 1986 that has led us to the point where we have 10 million to 13 million illegal immigrants in the country. Any measure, regardless of what it's called, is still an amnesty, which will not only be an affront to those waiting to enter legally but will send a clear message to billions around the world desiring to better their lives by coming to America. We simply cannot afford to take them all in.

Byron Slater

San Diego

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