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Dear Editor:

"Honza" Jan Prchal's March 22, 2002, letter argues for a utilitarian-based immigration policy. Of course, Mr. Prchal's proposal curves out a comfortable exception for immigrants, like himself and his family, fleeing "real" persecution.

I am a practitioner in Northern California, and I don't pretend to have an universally acceptable answer to the 245(i) dispute. I can say that my clients continue to feel the benefits and pains of the prior 245(i) implementation. There have been hindrances, and some of the delays have been grotesque. The problem lies not with the policy compromises which spawned 245(i), but with the lack of resources and poor implementation. I don't believe that anyone likes the current visa processing system. And, yes, these "mini amnesty" programs tax an already overburdened system. But, long lines, backward regulations, unreasonable delays and poor customer service plagued the INS long before the 245(i).

The United States is bordered by two allies: Canada to the North and Mexico to the South. Many of my clients are Mexican or Central American, and have entered the US, often illegally, to avoid economic hardship, war, civil disturbances or persecution. I suppose if America bordered the former Soviet Bloc things would be much different. Those immigrants would brave war, starvation and persecution awaiting proper approval before venturing into this global haven. Let's not be too unrealistic! If this hypothetical were true, Mr. Prchal's nationality might be El Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Argentinean, Colombian or Peruvian.

Illegal entries and visa overstays are problems -- after September 11th, more than ever! In searching for a solution, I trust Congress considers national security, humanitarian, economic, social and political factors. The same facts in slight different proportion control policy decisions concerning refugees and asylees. The issues are bound together because their solutions derive from a common set of political values. Change one, and the other is changed, with one exception. In the never ending economic race, I believe the legalization/amnesty programs hold more promise than asylum.

Jonathan R. Tyrell