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Dear Editor:

As I have written before, your Editor’s Comments of January 23 were on the mark. They established a consensus as to what had been agreed upon and defined the problem I had hoped that a next step would bring forward proposals for a possible solution to the undocumented immigrant problem. A solution calls for something that is practical, do-able, that can be accomplished. Continued speculation accomplishes nothing.

I tried in my last letter to put forth something constructive, at least something that could constitute a beginning, a block to build on.

My letters are not passionate but compassionate. There is a difference.

I think that anyone who has something to propose should build on the consensus of January 23rd. Most of the responses to my last letter produced little that was concrete but were filled mainly with negative conjectures. Where are the positive proposals?

My statement that in this country there are 22.3 million Hispanic Americans who constitute its largest ethnic voting minority was countered with the statement: “From my point of view...that’s precisely the reason NOT to legitimize illegal aliens....Why on earth should we encourage this by enabling the formation of “voting blocks” who place their ethnic interests above the interests of the US as a whole?“ Like it or not the Hispanic Americans can and will vote to advance their causes. This is what democracy is. What does the writer think that the NRA, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the Christian Coalition and Green Peace (to name a few) are if not “voting blocks”? To deny any their constitutional prerogative is discrimination.

Another writer warns me to think of the fate of our country by the time it reaches the year 2025. What that fate will be I will never know as I will not live that long. I can only surmise.

The 1990 census predicted that by the year 2005 Hispanic Americans would number more than 50 million. This is a prediction arrived at almost twelve years ago without even considering undocumented immigrants. That means that by that year, at least 1/8 of all Americans will be Hispanic Americans. The estimate is based upon the statistics that Hispanic American families have on the average 2.9 children vs. 2.0 for the so-called “white” American families. (Blacks, 2.4, Native Americans, 2.2, Asian Americans, 2.0)

Another writer wrote: “that [Dr. Baer’s] efforts to aid their [the Mexican’s] poverty and to provide for them would be better placed in Mexico affecting change in the Mexican government and the thousand or so wealthy families that control Mexico, who are responsible for the poverty of the ordinary Mexican people.” Won’t it be wonderful when the day comes that every Mexican can find a comfortable livelihood in his own country and not have to immigrate to find decent work with which to sustain his family! I agree with you on that. That day will come. Big changes are being made in the Mexican government right now. Today, the statement of “a thousand or so wealthy families that control Mexico and are responsible for the poverty of the ordinary Mexican people” is not true. In recent years (beginning in 1997) Mexico has begun a change to a multiparty democracy, The Revolutionary Party after almost 71 years has lost its dominance in politics. Mexico in the name of Vicente Fox has a strong (PAN) president.

Our government should support and encourage him in every way it can. It is to our mutual benefit. Mexico still has only a small upper class and a very large poor class. (51% still live in extreme poverty.) The past few administrations, especially the present one, have tried hard to make changes, but the economy has not been able to create enough jobs to keep up with the population explosion (Population growth rate, 1998: Mexico=1.77% vs. 1.18%= United States), this in a population of 100 million Mexicans. Until these demographics are changed we will continue to have Mexican workers immigrating to our country no matter what we do on our side of the border. We just can’t stop them. (Anyone who is interested will find excellent reading on the subject in Microsoft ENCARTA Encyclopedia 2000, History, Mexico. Try also Hispanic Americans.)

One writer, already referred to, also wrote: “It is perfectly possible IF the need is there to adjust immigration policy to include the unskilled workers WHO APPLY LEGALLY.” With this I agree, too. We disagree only in that I believe the need is here NOW to make such an adjustment and if such adjustment is not made THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY for an unskilled worker to enter this country legally. Also, the need is here NOW to resolve the problem of the undocumented immigrants ALREADY in this country. Great, let’s let unskilled workers come in legally and freely where needed, properly identified and controlled, and let’s do something now about the undocumented workers already here before them.

Another author suggests we already have a way to solve the problem, i.e. implementing the laws passed in 1986 that provides for fines for employers of undocumented workers and deportations of the latter. This is the law that in the Editor’s Comments was part of our consensus that “was not meant to be a bad law”, but is a law that does not work. INS is BOTH unable and unwilling to enforce this law. This law hasn’t been enforced for almost 20 years! The president doesn’t want to enforce it. The Commissioner of INS doesn’t want to enforce it. (He says, “We need them” [i.e. these undocumented workers]). If rounding up and deporting 8 million undocumented immigrants is a “mission impossible,” how do you propose to identify and fine 8 million illegal employers? INS chances upon a few such employers once in a while, almost accidentally.

Finally, I wish to address a comment from J.H. Frecker which does not help solve the problem but is interesting. He wrote: “Aliens who have ties (equity) here [in this country] have several avenues of relief available to them.” (Equity: the residual value of a business or property beyond any mortgage thereon or liability therein---Am. Heritage Dictionary.) This is news to me. So, if an undocumented immigrant owns a home, a car or whatever (has equity), he/she cannot immediately be deported. Are their native born children with their birthright of citizenship considered in this light too? What are the other “several” avenues open to an alien with equity? How long a time passes before deportation proceedings would reasonably be initiated against undocumented immigrants with equity? What happens to an undocumented immigrant’s home and other accumulated possessions if he/she is eventually deported? What is the disposition of their children who are American citizens? ,p> I do not consider my writings to be part of any debate but rather an exchange of information and/or perspectives.

To me, life is like attending a sporting event. Most of us have to pay the price of admission in order to get into the game. There are some who get a free pass and others who sneak into the game. If I am going to spend my time distracted by how the others got there and what it cost them, I might miss part of the game. Who am I to begrudge another because he didn’t have to pay the price I did? I’m willing to share my ”popcorn“ with the guy seated next to me no matter how he got there.

Richard E. Baer, D.V.M.