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Dear Editor:
INS has conceded that those undocumented immigrants now in this country do not face mass deportation efforts. This concession is the effect of an inevitable conclusion that mass deportation is: (1) in no way practical and would entail enormous expenses, (2) that the loss of these workers would adversely affect our economy, and (3) it would have serious political repercussions in our relations with our neighbor, Mexico – our second largest trading partner.

The INS announcement may relieve fear of deportation for being undocumented, but there is still no solution offered to remedy the immigrants’ breach of immigration law. There also remain additional legal roadblocks to overcome: Undocumented workers are in effect being permitted to stay and work, but are denied any way to obtain a valid Social Security number necessary to legally obtain work. A valid SS number is a requirement, too, in more and more states in order to obtain or renew a driver’s license. In some states, an undocumented worker may legally purchase an automobile (acquire the title) but he cannot register the vehicle (and get state license tags to operate it on the roads) without a SS card identification.

No matter which way he turns, the undocumented worker loses. When applying for employment the worker may be told, sometimes with a wink and a nod, that he needs a Social Security number in order to be hired, the employer knowing full well that the card eventually presented may be fraudulent (The owner’s interest is in covering his own back.) Other employers knowingly hire without requiring SS identification. Whether collected SS taxes in the first instance reach their government destination or the pocket of the unscrupulous employer is a matter of speculation. No SS tax is collected in the second instance. The employee for sure will never benefit from his payments. The same is true of income tax collected. The worker is afraid to make claim for what may be his legitimate refund because he has heard all too often that others in filing such claims have been traced and faced with deportation. The alternative "pay under the table" leaves the employee at the mercy of the whims of his employer and the government again without taxes. (Some workers have been in this country for as long as twenty years working as day workers in exchange for cash work payments—no income taxes or Social Security taxes collected here.)

The number of persons trying unlawfully to enter the United States across the Mexican border has fallen dramatically in 2001 and in the first months of 2002. The reasons given for the decrease include the recent US recession, economic improvements in Mexico, and increased enforcement after Sept 11th (Siskind’s Immigration Bulletin, 5/31/02). New planned border security measures should reduce the number even further. Border control is improving. An adjustment in our immigration policy to facilitate the legal migration of unskilled workers (properly documented with background checks) to fill the work demands in our country (where they, these workers, are needed) would still further decrease the numbers of EWIs. ("America should make it easy to come for those who do work that we need." – Gary Endelman, Immigration Daily, 6/11/02). Efficient management and control of the border can become a reality – it's a question of demand and orderly supply.

Yet there remains no solution for the undocumented immigrants already in this country. The present disregard and failure to manage this situation is like the game of a cat playing with a mouse.

Richard E. Baer, D.V.M.