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Dear Editor:
This letter is for Mr. Murray from the masked man whose identity remains even more guarded than R.L. Ranger. I think it's so interesting that you have always referred to me as a "man". FYI - I am a woman. And, you know, the only reason I brought in the past, which I happen to think is never irrelevant, is because you appeared to be on a moral high horse. If you are going to say things like, "illegal immigrants don't deserve to be happy" - then you leave me no choice but to remind you of the fact that our country was built on the backs of slaves and illegal immigrants, or on our illegal conquest of land. I also believe that in a very real sense, that basic economic paradigm which gave rise to slavery or Manifest Destiny is still very relevant today - only the ethnic groups immigrating and the particular sectors of the economy affected are different. For example, today we have urban areas which are allegedly overrun with immigrants such that the school systems and social services are strained to accomodate them, and yet in this same era we have midwestern communities which are so underpopulated that they are threatened with extinction and are recruiting immigrants. The arguments themselves for and against immigration and immigrants are strikingly similar to those in the transcripts of the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1880's. The problem with the immigration debate, and the reason why workable solutions seem to elude us is precisely because what might be a sound economic argument then becomes tainted with the moralistic, patriotic or otherwise personal, emotional baggage of the participants, and inevitably degrades into a shouting match. To lament that politicians are using immigration to sway an election is to lament our democratic political process at its core. What successful candidate doesn't pander to the electorate, especially when there is a hot issue? In order to devise solutions, we have to come to some kind of an agreement about our national priorities. Is terrorism going to blind us to the exigencies of our economy or can we find solutions that can keep us both safe and prosperous? Are we going to be able to acknowledge the global nature of our modern economy, the interplay between offshoring and immigration? All too often, people don't want to face the unpleasant paradoxes of our modern existence, but we can't wish them away. We have created a society with an elaborate system of checks and balances. Corporations pursue profit and we have been nursed on the notion that it will trickle down to us. But, then, we also feel the need to protect our workers from undue exploitation and these two philosophical positions often come into conflict, especially in lean times. Too often, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face. In the end, speaking in broad, general policy or philosophical terms is not enough. We have to get down to the nitty gritty, and here I believe that only people with a sophisticated grasp of the complexities of immigration law can contribute significantly, like the person who suggested revamping the family preference system, like H & L legislation, like the return of 245(i), like a guest worker program. I believe that to argue ad nauseum about the fairness of legalizing an illegal work force that already exists is to thwart any hopes for a meaningful dialogue. If we want enforceable laws, they have to take reality into account, otherwise, human nature will find loopholes. Okay - legalize, then meaningful reform, then hopefully, future legalizations will not be needed. How's that for a solution?


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