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

Dear Editor:

The reasons that I am partial to the undocumented Mexicans are two-fold: 1) From years of association with them, I know them well. There are no terrorists in this group. They are not here to destroy our society; they are here to join it. “[Granted] the vast majority of them are honest hard working people who are coming here to make a decent living, which they apparently can’t do in Mexico.” (J.H. Frecker, Immigration Daily, 1/16/02). 2) The Mexican immigrants enjoy the support of more than 22.3 million Hispanic Americans who are their “compadres” (i.e. those with whom they share close cultural bonds). These 22.3 million Hispanic Americans constitute the largest ethnic voting minority in this country and they are increasingly becoming more unified in their Hispanic identity. The Mexican immigrants, too, have the backing of a strong Mexican president in the person of Vicente Fox and his new government. Mexico, along with Canada, is our closest neighbor and Mexico is second only to Canada in the purchase of our consumer goods.

Some sage (and I don’t remember who) once said that every journey must begin with a first step. Perhaps resolving the problem for the Mexican workers will open the doors for the other immigrants later. Absolutely nothing constructive has been accomplished so far, so it may be better to try for one successful step forward first rather than to take a big leap and fall.

I look upon these discussions not so much as a debate but as an opportunity to present possible solutions - an opportunity for everyone concerned to present his or her ideas.

One may well offer personal opinions and personal experiences, but statistics, polls or facts not one’s own should be referenced if they are to have any credibility. Otherwise they remain only speculations.

This letter represents my contribution to try to find a solution to the immigration problem. Possibly somebody may find something in its contents to build on.

On February 13, at a press conference with President Musharraf of Pakistan, President Bush, when questioned, repeated again his contention (referring to undocumented immigrants) that when we find a willing employer and a willing employee we ought to match the two. He must believe this or he wouldn’t keep saying it. So why doesn’t he direct the commissioner of INS to find a way whereby “willing employers” and “willing employees” can petition to adjust their status? This could be a simple voluntary first step towards the solution of the immigration problem. Think how it would improve homeland security if millions of unknown persons now in this country illegally could voluntarily be made known and identified. It would allow the worker to come out of the shadows and live a life without fear.

Documenting the workers would make an employer accountable for his employees and assure that he pays the worker an equitable wage for his labors. From these earnings the worker will have deducted his required income tax payments and will contribute to Social Security. (Economists say that when the “baby boomers” retire Social Security will be in serious trouble unless it develops a broader base.)

The granting of a voluntary petition for an adjustment in status is not an amnesty. The petitioning immigrant would face a screening about his background, criminal free record, his length of stay in this country, where he lived, what he did, his work record, his learning of English and other pertinent information. He should require sponsorship by employer, family, church or other American citizen who would vouch for the petitioner and be responsible for his activities and whereabouts. There will be those who will claim that because the petitioner has violated the law he should be punished. If this must be, let the punishment fit the violation, perhaps a fine paid from the immigrant’s hard earned wages. (This could represent a significant source of money for INS enforcement activities.)

What is the alternative? Any attempt to round up and remove over 8 million people is an impossible task. Just locating them would be a “mission impossible.” It seems that even INS does not want to remove these workers. (Addressing HIFT recently, the INS Commissioner said, “We need them.”) If the president of our country believes that we ought to accommodate willing workers and the commissioner of INS concedes the “we need them,” I think all should agree.

In the 1990s the government of Serbia forced some 840,000 ethnic immigrant Albanians from their homes in the province of Kosovo, Serbia. Most of the displaced Albanians left behind their belongings, their homes and other possessions and many were separated from families and friends. This was called “ethnic cleansing.” It caused undue hardships and was condemned by most of the countries of the world as an atrocity.

Today, there are some in this country who favor rounding up and deporting not 840,000 but over 8,000,000 undocumented immigrants, deporting them to only God knows where. They too would stand to lose much of their accumulated life possessions, and in many cases be separated from family and friends. What would happen to their children born in this country with their birthright as American citizens? No one ventures to inform me. What would all of this cost? Will this be our version of “ethnic cleansing”? In one fell swoop we could destroy the lives of millions of fellow human beings.

Before we become too violent in our wrath, perhaps we should recall the prayer of Rev. Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Richard E. Baer, D.V.M.

References: Any references not specifically stated in this letter can be found in my previous letters published in Immigration Daily dated 1/16/02, 1/23/02, 1/28/02, 2/11/02, 2/20/02, and 2/22/02.


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