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Dear Editor:

Dr. Baer, in his most recent letter, suggests that those of us who do not agree with him are guilty of a lack of compassion. The fact is, our compassion is with others: with the people who are waiting to come legally, or to the American poor already here. Every illegal alien who is "legalized" is one less slot available for legal immigrants--actually, more, because illegal immigrants who "legalize" may then sponsor their families. Every job an illegal alien holds is a job that is not available to a legal immigrant, or to our native underclass. By the way, according to the LA Times that underclass these days includes young Latino citizens who are not able to get a foothold at a job because they are being undercut by immigrants.

I am an Arab-American, and have lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East for the past 30 years. It is precisely because I am aware of the poverty that exists elsewhere, and how widespread it is, that I support an orderly, legal, and fair immigration system, NOT one which favors Mexican immigrants because it's relatively quick and convenient for them to cross our borders. I've also experienced firsthand in the Middle East the problems of terrorism and political disruption which make the problems of illegal Mexican economic migrants insignificant. Is the need of a Mexican economic migrant greater than that of a Lebanese or Afghan or Kurd? While most immigrants are not terrorists, make no mistake that some are. Careful scrutiny and control of our immigration process are essential. Unfortunately, there is no easy means that I know of to distinguish a terrorist from an immigrant, legal or illegal. Does Dr. Baer really believe that terrorists are so stupid that if one avenue into the US is closed, they will not make use of another, such as a porous southern border with Mexico?

As for the children of the family he speaks of, it is not possible to deport US citizens. The deportation proceedings will decide if deportation of the parents would be an undue hardship on the children. However, many American kids grow up living abroad--in fact we speak of the benefits of being multicultural. How is this different? Because the kids may grow up in poverty there rather than here? Some may actually see it to be a benefit, in terms of the values, to grow up in Mexico, poor or not, than in the US. Alejandro Portes, a Princeton University sociologist, notes that many Latino youth are assimilating to gangs and the like in the US. What it comes down to, though, is that the parents made a choice in coming here illegally which impacted their childrens' lives, and now they may have to make another one. This is something every parent does, but it is still a choice. It is the parents' responsibility (and fault, if any).

Ali Alexander