- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

Reward hard working Latino immigrants with citizenship

In your recent coverage of legislation changing the H-1B visa program for foreign high-tech professionals, you failed to adequately discuss another piece of legislation being considered in Congress that would acknowledge the importance of other immigrant workers to our booming economy ("High-tech lobbyist counts Washington successes," Oct. 16).

The legislation, called the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA), would allow nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Liberia residing in our nation since 1995 as well as long-term immigrant residents here since 1986 to be considered for legal permanent residency.

The measure, which is strongly supported by the U.S. Catholic bishops and the Latino community, would normalize the legal status of immigrant populations that for years have worked in the United States and paid taxes, and, in the cases of certain national groups, fled from persecution in their home countries.

Targeted legalization of long-term immigrant residents, such as provided in LIFA, brings numerous benefits to both the immigrants involved and the larger society as a whole.

In an economic sense, it guarantees that immigrant workers remain in the United States and continue to contribute to the U.S. economy, especially in this period of growth. Legalizing these workers stabilizes the work force by giving an employer confidence that an employee will not be suddenly deported. Once they are legal, laborers will also be afforded competitive wages and decent working conditions.

Perhaps most importantly, legalization preserves family unity by preventing the deportation of parents away from their U.S.-citizen children.

Some in Congress claim that this legislation would encourage illegal immigration and reward those who entered the United States illegally at the expense of those who wait in long immigration backlogs to enter the country. On the contrary, LIFA is designed to help many long-term immigrant residents who, by and large, are here with permission of the U.S. government, have fallen out of status through no fault of their own, have U.S. citizen or legal resident family members already in the country, and have established important financial stakes in their communities that deserve recognition.

Each day, individuals who would benefit from LIFA appeal to Catholic dioceses across the country for assistance. They are hardworking members of their local communities who have toiled to make a better life for themselves and their families, and have helped build the economy we now enjoy. As the 106th Congress nears adjournment, our elected leaders should offer a measure of justice to those who deserve a chance to become Americans by enacting LIFA.

KEVIN APPLEBY

Director of Policy

Migration and Refugee Services

U.S. Catholic Conference

Washington

Gore's debate performance raises issues

Did you hear what I heard during the final presidential debate? Vice President Al Gore told Americans that one of his proposals for improving the educational system was to create a federal entity to monitor the performance of local schools.

Schools that failed to perform would be put on a government list. If the school did not take the appropriate action, a team of "experts" would descend upon it to close it down, remove the superintendents and principals (and perhaps teachers), and remold the school into a successful entity. I would assume that this process also would be overseen by Washington bureaucrats.

If the teachers unions were listening, they should be in full panic. Local school districts should be ready for the garrote of the federal government to strangle their authority. And parents should be aware that any say they have over the education of their children would disappear under this plan.

As in his other proposals, Mr. Gore clearly favors the control of local institutions by the Washington elite.

CHARLES E. HEIMACH

Arlington

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During the final presidential debate, Vice President Al Gore's lack of credibility was evident in his complete inability to abide by the rules of the debate rules that were agreed upon by both candidates.

Whenever it suited him, Mr. Gore thought nothing of going against his word and ignoring the rules. How can Mr. Gore expect to gain bipartisan support or build coalitions if he cannot be trusted to keep his word on something as simple as this?

Trustworthiness is essential to leadership. You cannot lead if people don't trust you to do what you say you will do.

Mr. Gore also betrayed the trust of his debate opponent and Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. If Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore ever had to work together on another issue, do you think Mr. Bush would trust him to play by the rules?

If he became president, Mr. Gore's inability to keep his word would reflect poorly on all Americans. It would certainly contribute to the cynicism and partisanship that plagues Washington today.

MARGARET BEAM

Arlington

Greeks, as well as Armenians, suffered at hands of Turks

I would like to comment on the letters to the editor "Debate over Armenian 'genocide resolution' continues" (Oct. 18). I think it is unfortunate that the Clinton administration opposes H.R. 596, which would recognize the massacre of Armenians in Asia Minor during and after World War I.

I firmly support this resolution and encourage everyone who believes in justice to contact his U.S. lawmakers to urge support of this important bill. It should be noted, however, that of the more than 3.5 million Christians in Asia Minor who died at the hands of the Turks between 1894 and 1923, 1.8 million were Armenian and 1.75 million were Greek.

I have empathy for the suffering Armenian people, but I find it somewhat puzzling and disturbing that the extermination of the Greek population during the Asia Minor massacre is virtually ignored by the news media and even by politicians. I have spoken with Armenians who did not even know that Greeks also were massacred along with their Christian brothers and sisters.

But the magnitude of these tragic events are clearly recorded. In his book, "Passage to Ararat," Michael Arlen writes that Turkish women were given the dagger (Hanjar) to give the final stab to dying Armenians in order to gain credit in the eyes of Allah as having killed a Christian.

Another interesting note in history is that during the Asia Minor genocide, there were ships in the Smyrna (now the Izmir) harbor from Great Britain, the United States, France, Japan and Italy, among others. To escape the massacring Turks, the Christian population swam out to these ships.

The ships' crews, however, hit the hands of those trying to board so that they would fall back into the sea or literally pushed them back into the sea. Their excuse? They did not want to offend the Turkish government. Only the Japanese captain took pity on the victims and allowed them on board.

Today, it appears that President Clinton opposes the Armenian genocide bill for the same reason: He does not want to offend the Turkish government. For him, justice is not a consideration.

An especially moving portrait of the genocide the account of the mutilation of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna. According to eyewitness testimony from G. Mylonas, of the Academy of Athens, "the mob fell upon Chrysostomos," and committed some of the most horrendous acts of cruelty. "All the while, Chrysostomos, his pale face covered with blood, had his face turned upward, continuously praying, 'Holy Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.' Every now and then, when he had the strength to do so, he would raise his right hand and bless his persecutors. A Turk realized what Chrysostomos was doing, and got so furious that he cut off the Metropolitan's hand with his sword. Metropolitan Chrysostomos fell to the ground, and was hacked to pieces by the angry mob."

If the genocide of Armenians in Asia Minor is to be recognized in bills such as H.R. 596, then it is only right that Greek, Syrian and other Christian martyrs be included as well.

STELLA L. JATRAS

Sterling, Va.

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