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Dear Editor:

Mr. Baer persists in trying to convince us that there is NO alternative for Americans in dealing with illegal immigration except to "lie back and enjoy it" and that not only must we enjoy it, we must offer citizenship and all its benefits to them.

A reason he gives is the large number of Hispanic Americans, who "constitute the largest ethnic voting minority." From my point of view, and that of many other Americans, that's precisely the reason NOT to legitimize illegal aliens. Doris Meissner, former Commissioner of the INS, recently noted, that were we to somehow "legalize" all 8 to 9 million illegal immigrants, that would also mean allowing the immigration of roughly 27 million of their relatives under family sponsorship. Not to mention, encouraging further illegal immigration such as we saw after the 1986 amnesty. Our foreign and domestic policies are already driven far too much by ethnic and racial politics--why on earth should we encourage this by enabling the formation of "voting blocs" who place their ethnic interests above the interest of the US as a whole?! Particularly those who have shown themselves not to understand or willing to abide by the rule of law underlying our country.

As for President Bush's statement about matching willing workers with willing employers, there is already a means in place. It's called the legal immigration process. For many years, until the expansion of the H-1B program, thousands of employment-based green cards went unused. It is perfectly possible IF the need is there to adjust immigration policy to include unskilled workers WHO APPLY LEGALLY. However, when given the opportunity through programs such as 245(i), employers have not jumped at the chance to legalize low-skilled workers. Nor do they even push for more green cards and streamlining of the green card process. In discussions of guest worker programs, employers have pushed for the greatest amount of control over the worker at the least possible expense to themselves. And when low-wage workers were legalized as in 1986, they have moved on to better paying jobs, leaving the low-wage jobs to be filled by NEW illegal immigrants. To summarize, 1) employers seek and actually prefer the illegal status and low wages of their workers, and 2) legalization DOES NOT lead to less illegal immigration. On the contrary, it increases it.

There is no need to "round up" or engage in massive deportations. The government of Mexico recently reported it expected about a million Mexicans to return from the US during the holidays, many of them more or less permanently due to the US recession. Economists are predicting that recovery from this recession will be weak, and not accompanied by job formation. Translation: no boom such as in the 1990s, which sustained illegal immigration. Many states are reversing or turning down policies which allow illegal immigrants to legally obtain driver's licenses. Those states which have such policies, or have allowed in-state tuition for illegal aliens, are those heaviest with illegal aliens: California and Texas. They're also the ones which are now facing severe budget problems, particularly with regard to education and medical care. In New York, a public university recently reversed its policy of in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Other states have rejected such policies. Mr. Ashcroft's somewhat draconian attitude toward enforcing the immigration laws as they relate to terrorism will probably also "encourage" illegal immigrants and overstayers to really reconsider their chances of being found out and deported vs. returning home under their own steam. IF the reforms to the INS, including the tracking systems, are actually made, that should discourage illegal immigration as well.

Many of the illegal immigrants who are "hanging on" here are doing so because people like Mr. Baer and President Bush persist in giving them hope that they will somehow be able to become legal. Yet, even Mr. Bush isn't willing now to state unequivocally that he will give amnesty to everyone or anyone. That's still politically unpopular to the majority of Americans. Were we to have political leaders who clearly stated that illegal aliens would NOT be legalized, we'd probably see a large and voluntary exodus of illegal immigrants. Not all, but reduction of the illegal population to a "desirable" or at least more acceptable level.

Ali Alexander

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