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Dear Editor:

I hate to "wear out my welcome" but I'd like to respond to Mr. Richard Baer's letter published on January 16th explaining why, in his view, "three million Mexicans" in the US should be given legal status.

I retired from the Border Patrol after 28 years and have a different view. Throughout his letter Mr. Baer seems to ignore the fact that the people he's referring to (and it may be a lot more than three million) have committed a crime by entering the US illegally. Granted, the vast majority of them are honest hard-working people who are coming here to make a decent living, which they apparently can't do in Mexico. I'd agree with Mr. Baer that these people don't "want to destroy us" and that they want to "share in our prosperity." I don't agree that they want "to join us," "to work with us," or "to help us." Most of them see the US as only a place to get a job: Mexico is their home and that's where their allegiance is.

I'd like to see the present level of legal immigration to this country drastically reduced and a "zero tolerance" on illegal immigration. If that makes me an "immigration restrictionist," so be it. But I was one long before September 11th.

If we need these people to do jobs in the US (and not everyone believes that we do), they should come legally. In my (extremely) humble opinion, this country has to look "down the road" 25 - 50 years to try to predict the effects of the present levels of immigration and then reach a consensus as to what we want to do about it.

John H. Frecker
Baileyville, ME