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Dear Editor:
Re: Mr. Anderson's and Dr. Baer's letters: Labor shortage? These gentlemen haven't been reading the newspapers. The highest unemployment rate in a decade, and they're claiming "labor shortages". There is no such thing as a "labor shortage", only a shortage of workers at a price an employer is willing to pay. Many of the jobs now being done by illegal aliens have been done by Americans in the past, and would still be IF the wages were sufficient. As for the unwillingness of Americans to do dirty work, in my Midwestern home town, my niece's husband recently opened a restaurant. The waitpeople, busboys, etc. are Americans. In fact, the only "Hispanic" in the place is my (native-born Hispanic) niece's teenage son, who is learning the business from the ground up. The guy who cuts my mother's lawn is a middle-aged white man. My oldest brother began his career as a janitor. His daughter, my teenage niece, works in a pizza parlor--a job it was hard for her to find because so many jobs that used to be done by teens in high school are now being done by adults who rely on them as full time income to support a family. My other niece, now in college, worked as a nanny. Of course, what she earned wouldn't support a family, but then... As long as employers are able to import cheap unskilled labor from anywhere, they will do so, and they will continue to rely on the rest of us to pick up the tab for medical care and education of their employees and their employees' families. (In my long litany of American relatives who are doing jobs Americans supposedly won't do, I forgot to include my cousin (a firefighter) and his father, who literally built my cousin's home, and are now working on another. Boy, aren't we Americans lazy?!) Interesting, too, isn't it, that I don't hear Canada, Ireland, or even India, agitating for amnesty for their citizens who are here illegally. And I have yet to read about an illegal immigrant (though there may be some) from these countries getting dialysis here on the taxpayer's dime, or demonstrating in front of my local hospital for discounted rates or lobbying for bilingual education with the additional costs to taxpayers that that brings. And yes, I do object to even legal "temporary" programs for skilled workers, such as the H1-B visa, because these distort the labor market and there are no provisions for safeguarding American jobs. But that's getting off the issue. Re: Justin's letter of Feb. 4, I'm well aware of our history with regard to immigration, and the fact that most of our previous immigrants groups did not speak English as a native language. My grandparents certainly didn't, but they learned. Nor were they educated or literate. But then, most people even until the 1950s here, didn't need even a high school education to make a decent living. Try that today. As for learning English--my grandparents and other immigrants learned English because they wanted to and had to. There was no accommodation for nonEnglish speakers as we have now, even to the point of providing ballots for US elections in the native languages of people who should be able to handle basic English.

Ali Alexander



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