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Dear Editor:

The purpose of my reference to the Middle East atrocities in the introduction of my letter of 4/23/02 was to begin by recounting horrific crimes that hate can cause, be it blowing to bits innocent civilians by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv or crushing alive an innocent child by a military bulldozer in Jenin. We, too, suffered an unforgettable tragedy as a result of hate on Sept. 11. These were all extreme wrongs.

In continuing my letter with a report on the two undocumented immigrants and their treatment by INS, it was not with an intention of creating a moral equivalence between the atrocities and the detentions. I do believe the INS agents were over zealous in the performance of the apprehensions and they committed a wrong. Lack of compassion can cause wrong. I would like to remind readers that wrongs can begin benignly with insensitivity and inconsideration, and can escalate to ill will, prejudice, and malevolence and even to hate (as is the case in the Mid East).

The two apprehended workers will recover from their humiliation but if further prosecution results in their deportation, it will cause them irreparable harm and suffering. It will cause them wrongs.

I am a compassionate person and with my letters I try to influence others to be the same. I am sensitive to the mistreatment of everyone no matter where it occurs. (If someone writes that my feelings and my writings about my feelings are absurd, so be it.) I read the letters of those who appear to care less about what will happen to the couple and their family, and concluded that there are some writers who actually want them to be deported. These are people whose self-righteousness makes them oblivious to the sufferings of others.

The immigrant couple about which I wrote was happy in their work and their employer was happy with them. Why can’t there be some way of assuring that the relationship continues? That is the solution we should be working towards for them and for others. Why should INS want to deport them back to a life of poverty from which they had escaped, destroying all they have gained in the past six years and ruining their hopes and dreams? This may be legally correct but it is morally wrong.

The couple has hired a lawyer to fight any deportation proceedings. It brings up the question that, if they should be deported, what will become of their three children who are American citizens? As citizens, they have the same inalienable Constitutional rights as you and I. Would their citizenship be revoked? That is unconstitutional. Could they, American citizens, be deported with their parents to Mexico? A citizen cannot be deported. Could they be forcibly taken away from the parents and placed in foster care? That would be the cruelest form of inhumanity, breaking up a functional family.

Throughout the history of our country new immigrants have faced discrimination. Xenophobes spread fear that the new arrivals would take over the country but it has never happened. The new immigrants of the past, our ancestors, took pride in seeing their children and their children’s children assimilated into the American way of life and it will happen much the same with the present immigrants and their offspring when they are given that opportunity.

Mayor Guiliani in his farewell address to New Yorkers said that: “the key to our success as a city, the reason we are the most famous city in the world, and the reason why we really are legitimately the capital of the world is just one thing: immigration.” One of the reasons why we are the most powerful country in the whole world is immigration.

I want to conclude by commenting that the letter of Karmell Bowen of 4/26/02 was a valuable and eloquent contribution to the discussion on immigration that we are carrying out in our Letters to the Editor.

Richard E. Baer, D.V.M.