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Rules different for an empire

June 21, 2007

Re "Immigration policy, the Roman way," Opinion, June 16

Cullen Murphy spins a glowing picture of immigration by comparing the United States to the Roman Empire. When Rome morphed from a republic to an empire, the will of the people was subverted to the greedy interests of the wealthy elite. It did not welcome immigrants because it used slaves from its conquered territories.

We are a democracy, not an empire, and if the laws of our democratic government are ignored, then it can no longer guarantee our freedoms. Our nation's immigration laws are not capricious acts of racism; they guarantee legal immigrants citizenship in a democracy, not enslavement to an empire.

DOROTHY BUCKLEW

Anaheim

*

Murphy had my husband and me laughing aloud at the parallels he drew between illegal immigration problems and his account of Roman history. Does he not understand that many who spoke no Latin were under Roman rule because Rome was an expansionist empire? Is he unaware that conquered peoples were not considered Roman citizens unless they could buy their way in, and that many became the slaves of their conquerors? Soldiers in Roman legions not born Roman were there for any number of reasons, not the least of which was to preserve their own lives by swearing allegiance to Caesar after being captured.

Before entering the immigration fray, I recommend that Murphy at least gain basic knowledge of subjects he wishes to employ in his arguments to avoid looking foolish.

ROYAN HERMAN

Shadow Hills

*

At its height, the population of the Roman Empire was about 60 million, exclusive of slaves and noncitizens. There were no jobs as we know them today until the Industrial Revolution came about at a much later time.

Murphy writes of his father-in-law coming to the U.S. from Mexico in 1920. Then, the population of the U.S. was 106 million. Today, the population is more than 302 million and counting. Any comparison of now to then has no validity.

RAY BLOCK

Chino Hills

*

Bravo for Murphy's excellent Op-Ed. It is elegantly written, scholarly, and goes right to the heart of a difficult problem. That's the good news. The bad news? Despite Murphy's time-validated lessons, they probably will not penetrate the resistant layers of prejudice of those self-appointed guardians of our borders whose chief concern seems to be getting their pictures in the paper or on the evening news.

WILLIAM D. LANSFORD

Playa del Rey

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