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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Dear Editor:
In response to Editor's Comments, at the risk of repeating myself, your argument about viewing immigration in purely economic terms doesn't hold water. At the extreme, it would sanction institutions such as slavery, because that would be to the economic benefit of the owners. The simple fact is that immigrants are not just sources of labor, much as you might like to think of them as such. They have needs and rights as human beings, just as the citizens of this country do, and these needs and rights should not be subverted to the interests of corporations or the small business owner who doesn't have a viable business model without depending on cheap labor. Nor should the well-being of citizens and legal immigrants already here be so subverted. While you are apparently focusing on the revenue side of the profit equation (for those of you without even this basic economic concept, Profit equals Total Revenues minus Total Costs), you (I'm not sure about Mr. Greenspan) are ignoring the fact that it is the US taxpayer, particularly State governments, which pay most of the costs of meeting the needs of immigrants for services such as education and healthcare. The federal government is one pocket, the state governments, the other. The taxpayer has to worry about both; Mr. Greenspan, only one. It is profit the US taxpayer is concerned about.(Think of all those lovely unfunded mandates, such as providing translators or translations, or medical care for illegal or uninsured immigrants, that the federal government is willing to pass to states and from states to local governments and ultimately to taxpayers at the local level--to make the federal bottom line look good.)

And before someone starts claiming I'm anti-immigrant, no such thing. I favor an immigration policy which is selective of immigrants based on the needs of this country, both economic and socio-cultural. Our current policy isn't. It is driven primarily by "family reunification" extending beyond the nuclear family, and including many for whom the economy may have no particular use. We also have many immigrants under the employment visas who view the US green card only in economic terms (such as you are espousing), who come here to work, get whatever benefits they can with as little cost to themselves as they can manage, and go home, or who plan to spend as much time as they can in their homeland. In other words, who do not intend to make the US their permanent home as was intended by the green card program. What will an abundance of so-called immigrants with this opportunistic view of the US do to our political and social fabric, to the very concept of a US citizenry?

To lay it out for those who seem to believe I am "anti-immigration", I do oppose illegal immigration. It is fundamentally unfair and subverts the principle of law and order which underlies this country. Illegal aliens, for whom many employers have a use only if they can be gotten cheaply, also distort the labor market here and as a group impose a burden on society while individual employers benefit. I support legal immigration as long as (1) the immigrant has the education and skills to support him/herself and their family without recourse to welfare (up to becoming citizens), or has a sponsor, such as a family member or employer who will guarantee to support the immigrant, and will be held accountable; and (2) there are no US workers available (a stringent needs test). I favor, as I have said before, a selection process which considers a combination of needed skills (or lack of skills, if unskilled workers are needed) and education, knowledge of English, and family connections already here.

There is a possibly apochryphal story about President Jimmy Carter and the leader at that time of the People's Republic of China. President Carter was, as I recall, asking for human rights for the Chinese People, including the right to leave China. The leader of China then turned and asked him, "All right, Mr. Carter, just how many of my countrymen is the US willing to take? 100 million? 200 million? More?" Now, I ask readers of this paper, just how many should we accept, not only from China, but from India, Mexico, and the rest of the world--and what criteria would they use to select them? Any and all who knock on our door, or sneak across our borders?

Ali Alexander



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