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Dear Editor:
Regarding, Mr. Anderson's comments on Mr. Greenspan, what is ignored, and what Mr. Greenspan did not bother to point out, is that those who benefit from immigrant labor were not the public as a whole, but top corporate executives and major shareholders of corporations. Sure, immigrants increase the size of an economy--just as increasing birthrates increase the size of an economy. They do not, however, necessarily improve the per capita income of a country. (Consider highly populated countries such as India or China or Mexico--if sheer numbers are so wonderful, why aren't most individuals in these countries better off?) Ordinary individuals are not necessarily any better off (except for immigrants, of course, who earn more here than they do at home while undercutting US labor). Also, Mr. Greenspan indicated that immigrants did help keep inflation down--by keeping wages down. As one might expect, this is exactly why some Republicans want more immigrants, particularly from Third World countries: cheap labor.

What has been overlooked in Mr. Anderson's letter is the news all around us. In fact, it's hard to read a major newspaper without seeing it. You will find that the unemployment figures include not only formerly highly paid technical people, but lower- and middle-income people. Factories shutting down or being moved overseas-to Mexico, to Guatemala, to China. Instances such as Enron, where the rank-and-file employees lost not only their jobs, but their retirement savings. Layoffs of average workers at companies such as AOL, US Airways, United Way and so on. The hotel industry here on the East Coast still hasn't recovered from 9/11--service jobs as maids, busboys, taxi drivers, etc. have been lost. High school students, particularly minority students in urban areas, with high unemployment. And unemployment figures don't even include discouraged workers--those who have been out of work for over a year and have basically stopped looking, believed to be at a 10-year high. Welfare figures are also turning up again, after declining at the end of the 1990s--low skilled legal workers who found jobs in the boom and got off welfare are being laid off and finding it hard to get new jobs. These especially are the people illegal immigrants compete with. Bear in mind, too, that when the highly paid and middle income people are out of work, or fear they will be, they cut back on the very things that lower income workers provide them with: lawn services, nannies, retail help, new houses, and so on.

Ali Alexander



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