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Illegal Immigrants and Jobs

September 13, 2003

I had to laugh at Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) saying we need illegal immigrants because Americans "are not interested in turning down beds at hotels and working in the fields" (Sept. 6). In 1965, this Arizona high school boy enlisted to pick lettuce in Yuma. The bracero farm worker program had ended, so growers were offering pay above minimum. But I ended up working a road crew for minimum wage that summer because growers just kept hiring their old migrant workers for the old low wages -- only illegally.

Amnesties and guest worker programs oppress poor Americans who can perform any job that pays a living wage. Politicians should stop carrying water for unscrupulous businessmen unwilling to pay the going rate in a free labor market.

Kenneth Pasternack

Santa Barbara


Re "Race Issues in the Recall" (letters, Sept. 6) and other related pieces: If readers want to lash out against illegal/undocumented aliens with respect to driver's licenses or other issues, then they should at least recognize that such foreigners come to California because good, law-abiding Americans hire these people. If foreigners found no jobs being offered to them because of their illegal status they would not come in anywhere near the numbers they now do. But not only do you hear nothing about curbing such employment, you hear praise about the contributions of the millions of illegal/undocumented aliens.

Those complaining should imagine the state's economy without the labor contributions of illegal/undocumented aliens -- because there are no Americans rushing to fill those positions. Not now and not at any time since the Great Depression.

Elliott R. Barkan

Professor Emeritus, History and Ethnic Studies, Cal State San Bernardino


Unfortunately, the candidates for governor are skirting the illegal immigrant issue. Illegal immigration is a major problem. Gov. Pete Wilson attacked this issue head-on. He was no racist. Nor were those who voted yes on Proposition 187. The word "illegal" simply means "not legal." Adhering to laws is what makes a democratic nation work. It is understandable why so many poor seek to immigrate to richer lands. People leave because their countries have failed them. Mexico, though being blessed with beauty and riches, has failed its people. We have immigration laws for a reason. We do not have the capacity to absorb the world's poor. It would be wiser to make these foreign lands better places to live.

We as voters are dooming California. Businesses will continue to leave. Jobs will be fewer. People will flee. The tax base will decrease. Increasing taxes will only exacerbate the problem. California needs leadership and a new direction. Otherwise, California will become enclaves for the rich surrounded by poverty and crime.

Bob Paul



As a bilingual Anglo American married to a non-English-speaking Mexican woman, and having lived almost exclusively among Mexicans for more than 55 years, I can tell you that most legalized and American-born Mexican Americans are loyal -- 100%-plus -- to this nation, sharing the same love, hopes and aspirations for this great nation as the so-called Anglo Americans. They too want our laws and borders to be respected. When illegals get jobs and special treatment, legalized and native-born Mexican Americans are the first to suffer. The present situation makes their uphill struggles almost herculean.

Middle-class Anglo Americans get the most benefit from the constant incoming stream of virtual slave labor willing to work for almost nothing -- not our Latino citizens.

If our politicians catered to Mexican Americans and other immigrant citizens wanting the U.S. to come first, and not to the loudmouthed, untrustworthy, self-serving "activists" among them, many problems in this country could be solved.

Gene D. Matlock


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