- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2000

America is stirring a successful melting pot

Diana West's Jan. 14 Op-Ed column, "The U.S.'s melted pot," misses the essential point about immigration into this country: Immigrants contribute to a stronger economy and a stronger America.

Of course we should have a dialogue on the issues surrounding immigration, but it must be grounded in the facts. In the most widely respected immigration study of our generation, the National Academy of Sciences recently concluded that immigration benefits the economy overall. Immigrants contribute a net $10 billion to the economy each year, and the on average, the difference between what an immigrant pays in taxes and receives in benefits is a plus of $1,800 for the Treasury.

In fact, no less an authority on economic growth than Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has urged Congress to consider increasing immigration to sustain our economic prosperity. In recent testimony before the House Banking and Financial Services Committee, he urged Congress to "open up immigration significantly" to refill what he termed the "shrunken pool of job seekers." He added, "I have always thought that under conditions that we now confront we should be very carefully focused on the contribution which skilled people from abroad [as well as] unskilled people from abroad can contribute to this country, as they have for generation after generation."

As to whether the latest immigrants are adapting to American ways, that too is indisputable. A 1999 study, "From Newcomers to New Americans: The Successful Integration of Immigrants Into American Society" by Gregory Rodriguez of Pepperdine University, shows that contemporary immigrant families are doing what newcomers always have done. They are slowly, but assuredly, embracing the cultural norms that are part of life in the United States.

For example, within 10 years of arrival, three-quarters of immigrants speak English with high proficiency, and in second and third generations, virtually all children of immigrants speak English proficiently. Within 20 years of arrival in the United States, more than six out of 10 immigrants own their homes, a rate roughly equivalent to that of the native born. Also, the longer immigrants reside in the United States, the more likely they are to become citizens.

No wonder Americans take pride in the preservation and contribution of our tradition as a nation of immigrants.

FRANK SHARRY

Executive director

National Immigration Forum

Washington

Don't close the book on Alexandria's Ellen Burke library

Recently, The Washington Times covered the opening of Alexandria's new Charles E. Beatley Jr. library ("Distinctive Alexandria library opens," Metropolitan, Jan. 10). The City Council of Alexandria would like readers to believe that the new library is a welcome addition to Alexandria's West End. Many citizens of Alexandria are not happy with the council's decision to open the new library and subsequently shut down the Ellen Burke branch that serves the West End.

Unfortunately, many citizens of Alexandria were not aware of the Burke library's closure. Few had the opportunity to participate in the process of shutting the door quietly on a fine community resource. In light of these events, more than 2,500 Alexandria residents have signed a petition to keep Burke open on Seminary Road. The Burke library serves a large and diverse community. It is located less than 100 yards away from Francis C. Hammond Middle School (1,250 students). The Burke library is within walking distance of many large apartment communities. The new library is more than 2 miles away from the community surrounding Burke. Burke is adequately served by public transportation.

Although Alexandria's leaders have tried to accomplish a worthy goal, they have put aside the needs of a community. The new library is drafty, uncomfortable and intimidating on the inside and has an "ugly-duckling" exterior. Burke never intended to be a state of the art technology center. It is simply a community library that is accessible to all. Let Burke library serve its community. Let's keep Burke library open.

LISA KILDAY

Alexandria

Why are Democrats against showing ID at the polls?

It's curious how the political parties continue to stigmatize themselves. The Jan. 24 Associated Press article on the disagreement between Virginia lawmakers over requiring voter identification is a fine example ("Lawmakers split along partisan lines on requiring voters to show ID at polls," Metropolitan).

The case in point has the Republicans calling for identification while the Democrats are against it. When I read the article, the first thing that came to mind was Chicago and the lock the Democrats have had on that city. It is fairly well known that for years, if you died in Chicago you would be likely to vote for many years after your interment. Why is it that the Democrats insist on perpetuating such an image? Though I don't believe the Democrats want to have the dead vote in Virginia, I do question their motives.

To use the Democrats' own words, "Voting is more important than buying something." They are correct. It is so important that we, the public, should ensure that only legitimate voters are allowed to vote. The system should not be open to potential fraud and the election of people to Virginia offices by people who have not made an effort to become part of the community or are after political gain. To argue that requiring identification will make voting more difficult is absurd. Anyone who believes that reaching into one's purse or wallet to present identification is difficult certainly shouldn't be in government.

We expect people younger than around the age of 28 to show identification for the purchase of alcohol. If we are stopped by the police for a traffic violation, we must show identification. All of these events are spontaneous, and we must carry identification in case they happen. In the case of voting, the individual knows the event is going to happen; therefore, he or she should have no excuse for not having identification on hand. Shame on the Democrats for perpetuating the image that they must depend on ineligible voters to get elected.

CHARLES E. HEIMACH

Arlington

Canadian-style health care system could use a checkup

Your editorial on the Canadian health care model is right on target ("Wrong prescription on health care," Editorial, Jan. 26). My wife and I were Canadian. We moved to Houston in 1981 and are now U.S. citizens. Changing our citizenship was not an easy decision, but the welcome we received from all our American friends and the continued Canadian move to socialism, including the health care system, all weighed toward that path. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of the greatest nation in the world.

My son had to have his small intestine sectioned due to damage in an unusual in-line skating accident five years ago. The care he received here was outstanding. He is not only alive today but without any ongoing effects from this operation. My wife's parents had a friend in Canada who had a similar problem in Calgary from a ski accident. He bled to death internally in 2* days because of the inept care he received. He received no operation and essentially died while being observed. When we told the medical people here about that, they were incredulous.

My brother-in-law, who is approximately 47 years old, has not taken real good care of himself but is a very kind and caring individual. He has waited about a year and a half for heart bypass surgery in Calgary and is not sure how much longer it will be. The doctors did advise him that it may be sooner than later because the more critical patients are dying in the hospitals before the medical system can get to them. What an interesting approach to controlling health care costs.

Please continue your efforts to spread the word. The last proposal for universal health care convinced me that there is more than just a philosophical difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. There is, in fact, a significant moral difference. I witnessed a number of Democrats pointing towards Canada's system as one that is working extremely well and that the United States should model. They are either inept or have an agenda of the government controlling all of our lives. Either way, this makes them dangerous.

CHARLIE ADAMS

Spring, Texas

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