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Dear Editor:

In the news media we are bombarded daily with stories of atrocities…from scenes of killings by suicide bombers to those of alleged human massacres. We are exposed to pictures of mass destruction - a woman digging with her bare hands in the rubble of what was once her home, searching a partially exposed (and decomposed) body of a young boy buried in that rubble.

We read of a knock on a door - of a couple being given ten minutes to get ready before they are whisked away from their children to be taken to a detention center for finger printing, strip-searching and incarceration.

The bombing and massacre stories are reported from the Mid-East; the apprehension story is from a community in our own country. It is one of at least thirty apprehensions that have recently taken place in Yuma, Colorado (Population, 9,841). (Immigration Daily, 4/19/02) The events have depleted the town’s work force according to the article. Immigrants are hiding in friends’ cellars in fear, afraid of coming out to report for work. INS federal officials are accused of raiding homes and staking out stores where immigrants shop. Colorado State patrolmen are cooperating with the INS agents.

Were the INS agents reacting to the recent humiliations of their agency? Is it a coincidence that the arrests occurred in the home state of the country’s most xenophobic anti-immigration U.S. Representative in Congress?

What was the crime of the apprehended married couple? It was that the two were undocumented Mexican immigrants (and, yes, the wife was accused of giving a false social security number to an employer). This particular couple had lived and worked in Yuma for more than six years, own their own home and have four children, three of whom are U.S. citizens. “We only want to work”, one of the immigrants volunteered.

Their employer must think a lot of this couple as he has posted the $10,000 bond needed for their release. Here is an example of a “willing employer “ and “willing employees” that Pres. Bush wants to match up, but when is he going to do something about it?

The townspeople think a lot of the immigrants in their community, too. “You just see the kids and their families”, a counselor at Yuma Middle School said, “You see how much they mean to you and how much they contribute to the community.”

“We are enforcing the law”, an INS spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Do the atrocities published day after day in the media inure the senses so that they become commonplace? When abuses such as were reported from Yuma are perpetrated against helpless people does it fail to arouse our compassion?

The knock on the door in the dark of the night, arrests and abductions, the tearing apart of families, the humiliation of strip-searching, and detention is an outrage and this type of hostility will not help to solve the immigration problem.

Senator Dodd (D-CT) at a Senate hearing stated that the immigration issue is one that is not going away (Immigration Daily, 4/19/02) and the San Diego Union Tribune reported Senator Kennedy (D-MA) as saying “Immigration is not the problem, terrorism is” (Immigration Daily, 4/22/02). The Attorney General of South Carolina said he was planning to lead a crackdown on “illegal aliens” in his state (Immigration Daily, 4/16/02). Hopefully Congress will take up the immigration problem and find a constructive and realistic solution before more regrettable actions are undertaken.

Prejudice can yield bitter fruit. Why do some writers bear so much enmity against the immigrants in our country?

Richard E. Baer, D.V.M.