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Dear Editor:
SJD's letter proposes legalization then meaningful immigration reform, which is precisely what we should not do. Meaningful immigration reform, including commitment to enforcement, must come first, or all we will have is a repeat of the 1986 amnesty and subsequent increase in illegal immigration. With immigration reform and enforcement in place, then perhaps we can discuss some type of legalization. The "guest worker" programs such as those proposed by Kolbe and Flake, or any amnesty program for that matter, are doomed to failure as a means of reducing illegal immigration if they are not accompanied by strict enforcement of immigration laws. Why on earth would an employer go to the trouble and expense of hiring through these programs, and being subject to their requirements, when he can still get illegal workers cheaper and without the oversight? And without any real penalty? Why would an illegal employee risk having his/her presence on record, when there is the possibility that they will not be able to remain here? In fact, one of the sponsors of these programs himself claimed that big business was not behind guest worker programs. If big business is not behind it, why would it use it if it is still able to hire workers illegally with impunity? And what do "guest worker" programs plan to do about all the workers who want to come here, but for which there will be no jobs? They will still come illegally, if laws are not enforced. Given the tremendous backlog on processing all immigration applications, and the current inability, in terms of manpower and cooperation, of immigration authorities to monitor the programs already in place, there is simply no way that a new guest worker program will prove anything but a drain on and diversion of existing resources. Rampant fraud was found in the 1986 amnesty program, and the GAO has found it in the current H1-B visa program, can we expect anything else from a new guest worker program. Particularly when immigration authorities haven't the resources to monitor it closely?

Ali Alexander



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