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Dear Editor:

The recent tragedy presents an important opportunity for immigrants. One of the many people who spoke on CNN and CNBC mentioned that this country needs people who contribute, not just arrive in order to benefit from the country. I agree, and I too am an immigrant (British).

As CEO of an immigration web site, I have reviewed a number of letters from different perspectives since the tragedy. I have pondered points made and feel compelled to write this letter. For various reasons, many people do not like immigrants or immigration.

This horrible event has unified America in a manner I have not witnessed before. Corporations have been generous, support personnel have worked day and nigh risking life and limb, individuals have contributed, and even our local paper and television station, the L.A. Times, in conjunction with KTLA-5 is matching $5 million in donations made by readers and viewers. Everybody is doing their best. I applaud them and am humbled by the many courageous efforts.

When I immigrated to the United States, I was impressed that the culture was known as a "melting pot," as contrasted to Canada's "cultural mosaic." However, when I arrived, the reality was different than what I had read and understood. Although in some cities and in some ways, America is a melting pot; in many ways it is far from it. Many people move here and think of this as just a different market in which to make money. They keep their initial heritage, they socialize only with their own culture, and basically are ghosts to the human landscape that makes this country so great.

The purpose of this letter is to announce a call to action. We should not create glass walls [i.e. I am an (country/race/religion) American], we should unite. Immigrants are an inextricable part of what America is. Let's demonstrate it through our generous efforts. Now is the time to show that we are not concerned with one's heritage or background. One does not have to be a citizen to be an American. If you intend to live here permanently, be an American, be a part of this remarkable and wonderful culture.

Pain and suffering have no boundaries; neither do hope, compassion, tolerance and understanding. The many people who risked and lost their lives in New York trying to save others did so bravely, without concern for the factors that divide us. This terrible event has united this country in many ways. My hope is that it continues to unite us. Do what you can to contribute to the problems of your country, your home.

My last concern is one of hate crimes. We have problems in this area. I don't expect you to wield a weapon. However, words are powerful. I am deeply concerned about the event that took place on the 11th. However, we cannot generalize and blame anybody with a commonality to the parties involved. If you really want to take the time, you can find bad in everybody. However, if we start blaming everybody from a particular country, or who is part of a certain belief, religious or otherwise, we will once again segregate this great country. One cannot blame the son for the father's deeds. We can only blame the responsible parties, and I trust in President Bush to take the appropriate actions when the time is strategically correct. When I attended mass on (day of remembrance) Friday, it gave me great pleasure in noting the diversity of people in a church so full we had to stand outside at times. It is my hope we can always stand side by side with our fellow Americans, regardless of background or belief.

Do your part to unite this amazing country; people make all the difference. Let's stand together and stay together. My prayers and thoughts are with all of the people and families affected by this tragedy. My admiration goes out to all of the wonderful people nationwide contributing to this effort by working day and night in New York. May God in His grace bless America.

Steven Riznyk, Esq.

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