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Dear Editor:

It seems to me that Mr. Richard Baer still hasn't realized that there are two separate categories in this ongoing debate: 1- whether or not there should be a way of legalizing illegal immigrants; and 2- HOW to go about legalizing them. I personally am not necessarily against finding methods of legalizing illegal residents of this country. What I am opposed to and frustrated with is the "HOW" part of the equation- the fact that they are being processed for legalization at the expense of those who maintained their status. Because of severely flawed immigration laws.

I also do not appreciate the reference to "compassion" in Mr. Baer's letter. I, too, am a "compassionate" person, Mr. Baer. I, too, "oppose the mistreatment of people". I too, "care about families and their hopes and dreams". I don't think that is the issue here. I never said that illegal immigrants should not be legalized. I am simply demanding that law-abiding immigrants get a fair shake, rather than be trampled by the stampede of illegal immigrants. Law-abiding immigrants, if they cannot be placed in a separate category, deserve priority over law-breaking immigrants, period. Isn't that the case in every other part of the legal system? Does someone renewing a driver's license have to wait three years to have the application processed because of thousands of people applying for waivers of license suspension? No. Nowhere else in this country is this kind of ridiculous reality so salient. Using Mr. Baer's emotional terminology, I'd like to claim my "compassion" for those who respect the laws of the country they reside in- those who follow a fairly basic code of conduct.

We are in need of finding a solution to both categories discussed- the "yes/no" of legalizing illegal immigrants, and the "how" of legalizing illegal immigrants. If we are going to legalize illegal immigrants, we should do it not at the expense of legal immigrants. There are tons of workers whose H-1b visas are running out while they wait for labor certifications in places like New York and Washington DC- they are forced to terminate their jobs, pack up, and leave when their visa expires, because there are so many illegal immigrants with applications pending before theirs. There are tons of family members of legal immigrants who are waiting outside the country for years and years for their applications to be processed, because they are in the line with family members sponsored by formerly illegal immigrants who legalized through amnesties and 245(i). There needs to be a separate department, or priority for those who entered legally and maintained legal status. The point of my letter is not to condemn or frown upon illegal immigrants (the former category); it is to remind people that there are one too many legal immigrants facing hardships because of a lack of basic legal infrastructure (in immigration law) to support law-abiders over law-breakers. And a legal system supporting law-breakers is... a bit chaotic.

John Smith