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Dear Editor:

Mr. Baer's concern in his letter of January 23 seems to be primarily for MEXICAN ILLEGAL immigrants. Just why is it that this group in particular deserves a "pass" on obeying immigration laws? Because they have no chance of getting legal permission? Millions upon millions of others from all over the world don't have a chance either. Shall we just say immigration is an "olly olly all in free" card - if you manage to get here, you get to stay?

Mr. Baer believes the old argument that these illegal aliens are doing work Americans and other immigrants can't or won't do. That's true - AT THE WAGE BEING PAID, which is usually far too low to support one person much less a family at the US cost of living. If employers truly wanted these workers, they had the opportunity to legalize them during 245(i) which ended April 30, 2001. Where were these eager employers then? Funny how willing these employers are to discuss "guestworker" programs, but not nearly so willing to discuss expansion of green card programs, which would require that they, the employers, assume responsibility for the workers, instead of relying on the domestic social safety net to do it for them. But then, why should they, when they can get a compliant workforce of illegal workers? And yes, whether they intend it or not, illegal aliens and quite a few legal ones do end up using various forms of welfare - the tourism industry in the DC area, for example, was devastated by September 11, and the workers hardest hit have been immigrants who cleaned hotel rooms, served food, and drove taxis. Shelters, food banks, and the like have been overrun by immigrants and those they displaced - lower-income African-Americans.

Ali Alexander