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Then and now on immigration debate

June 03, 2007

Re "Immigration's democratic fix," May 29

Tamar Jacoby postulates that both sides of the immigration issue must give up something to get something that they want. She states that the "law-and-order folks" would have to give up denying 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants a free pass to get tougher immigration controls. However, the devil is in the details.

Anyone who has done his or her homework on this issue knows that we have been down this road before. In 1986, America swallowed amnesty for 3 million illegal immigrants in return for the promise of tougher border enforcement.

Now, 21 years and 12 million more illegal immigrants later, anyone can see that all we got was just amnesty. Americans are being asked again to believe hollow congressional pledges of border vigilance.

Unless our government can first demonstrate a sustained and successful border enforcement program, the "law-andorder folks" will not relent their position.

WILLIAM ETHAN

Los Angeles

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There is a way to break the impasse regarding amnesty. On one side are those who say that lawbreakers should not be rewarded with citizenship, and on the other are those who say you cannot deport 12 million people; that a path to citizenship is the humane solution.

A compromise between these two extremes is to allow the illegal immigrants already here to attain legal residency with permanent work visas but not be eligible for citizenship. Thus they would not be rewarded with voting privileges and would be subject to deportation if they committed a felony.

This would allow them to come out of the shadows and live openly with dignity without the fear of discovery and family breakups.

Although this would create a new immigrant classification, it is preferable to the de facto underground class that is currently endured.

ERWIN ANISMAN

Rossmoor

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