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Dear Editor:

Mr. Alexander exhibits the same myopic vision that formed the roots of ethnic unrest in the former Yugoslavia, namely, a preoccupation with nationality. He discusses his 'Arab-American' background, and claims that the problems of individuals from the Middle East far outweigh those of Mexicans. He conveniently frames the difficulties faced by Mexicans as purely 'economic' in order to support his thesis. I find this statement, regardless of its accuracy, to border on arrogance.

Central Americans, of which Mexicans are one small group, have suffered just as much as those in Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc. I would venture to say that the Bosnian Muslims and the Ethnic Albanians of Kosovo would also have a stake in the 'suffering sweepstakes.' Therefore, for Mr. Alexander to single out those of the Middle East as the ones that have suffered the most, and are therefore most deserving of preferential treatment (I apologize if I am paraphrasing) is inappropriate, offensive and incorrect.

Our country's immigration policies should not be nationality-based and, with the exception of the Diversity Lottery and Asylum, are not. I think that Mr. Alexander and I would agree on that one point. In fact, those nationals from Middle East have, perhaps, the greatest chance at obtaining refugee status and privileges precisely because of the political unrest in their part of the world. I can also assure Mr. Alexander that in my experience, and in my practice, Mexicans do not enjoy any special privileges above and beyond Europeans, Middle Easterners etc. They are certainly not eligible for refugee status based on a 'purely economic claim.' I presume that Mr. Alexander is referring to Section 245(i) when he singles out Mexicans for his ire, but the fact is, that provision of law (which has for all intents and purposes been eliminated) assisted all those of whatever nationality who entered the US illegally. Unless he has the statistics to prove it, I doubt that all, or even the majority, of illegal entrants are Mexican. Illegal entry from our Norther Border is almost as significant as that flowing from the South.

In closing, I share Mr. Alexander's desire that Immigration policies and practices be fairly applied. No one is 'more equal' than anyone else. I also applaud Dr. Baer on his compassionate reading of our immigration policy; a human being has the same intrinsic value, regardless of the passport that he or she bears.

Christine Flowers


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