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Dear Editor:
Re: Mr. Greenspan's speech and your comments, there's a lot of ambiguity about immigration in Mr. Greenspan's speech--he makes no claim at advocating an immigration policy, quite the contrary. You've (not unexpectedly) interpreted the ambiguity in favor of massive increases in immigration. Here's another view: First, Mr. Greenspan cited increases in productivity or immigration to provide for baby boomers. Productivity was up a high 4.7 percent last quarter. Substituting capital for (immigrant) labor contributes to increases in productivity, even in agriculture. Second, Mr. Greenspan's comment on immigration does not say anything about the nature of the immigration. Will we get the expansion he believes we'll need from the massive importation of unskilled workers? Or is he speaking of skilled workers? Large numbers of unskilled workers certainly won't provide the tax revenues or create jobs the way skilled ones might. Is he saying we should accept illegal immigration, and de facto open borders, or attempt to regulate and choose the immigrants who will contribute to our economy? And, if Mr. Bush's plan to "totalize" social security with Mexico (or possibly other countries such as India in the future) goes through, won't that only aggravate the social security problems Mr. Greenspan's foretelling? Who will there be, under our present social security system, to support the immigrant labor as they age? Even more immigrants? Just how many immigrant workers, especially unskilled workers, would it take to support one immigrant retiree? It's a giant Ponzi scheme. As you can see, that simple word "immigration" raises a host of policy issues, including the basic one of determining how many immigrants are enough. Finally, he's looking at the impact of immigration policy at the federal level (and only focusing on the revenue side of immigration, not the costs, at that). But we all know, or should know, that it's the states that are bearing the costs of our current immigration policy, and which will continue to do so, particularly with today's and the future federal deficit.

Re: Mr. Baer's letter, the executives of Enron may not be particularly interested in cheap labor (I didn't claim they were), but the executives of Tyson's sure seem to have been. Enough to possibly conspire to bring hundreds of illegal aliens into this country, or to look the other way while their subordinates did it. Fish stink from the head. An Hispanic may well one day be President--if he or she is born here. So what. His/her parents should still be put in deportation proceedings if they are here illegally. Or does Dr. Baer prefer to see a country like Mexico, where the law is sold to the highest bidder and corruption is rampant? If Congress wants to change the law to allow the importation of unskilled labor, or legalize illegals, they have the power to do that--but public opinion, including mine, is very likely to penalize them for that. Particularly if we continue to have a jobless recovery and massive state and federal budget deficits. And particularly if it follows racist policies of favoring illegals from Mexico and Latin America, while denying equal treatment to Asians, Africans, and those from the Middle East. By the way, it is already possible to legally bring in seasonal workers under H2-A (no caps), but relatively few employers use it. Why? Because it requires oversight of their employment practices. Even if a "guest worker" program is enacted, there is no way it can succeed without strict enforcement of immigration laws--otherwise, employers will continue to prefer illegal workers who work cheaper and without oversight, just as they already do with H2-A.

Re: Justin's letter, contrary to Justin's interpretation, I am not holding today's immigrants to a higher standard than previous waves of immigration. I am holding them to the same standard: that they be able to support themselves without relying on government handouts. That they be able to pay for the medical care of themselves and their families--and that generally includes today having skills (including English) and/or the bargaining power to get insurance benefits and a decent wage from one's employer. Whether they want SUVs or not (and many of the Hispanic families in my neighborhood are as likely to own them as anyone else), or prefer to speak a language other than English in private, is up to them--as long as they pay their medical costs, and their share of their kids' schooling. But even to take orders at McDonald's requires enough English to be able to take orders and deal with customers, as well as with other employees. My local McDonald's, for example, has a number of Spanish-speaking employees, as well as some from Africa and elsewhere--how would you suggest they communicate among themselves, much less with customers, if they can't speak at least some English?

Ali Alexander



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