- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

Immigrant workers are more than guests

Sen. Phil Gramm's diagnosis of the failure of our current immigration policies regarding Mexico may be accurate, but his "guest-worker only" prescription is bad policy and bad politics ("Benefits of a guest-worker program," Commentary, July 1).

Mr. Gramm is right that our nation's current approach to reducing illegal immigration from Mexico has failed. The combination of massive border enforcement and unduly restricted access to legal immigration has not curtailed Mexicans from coming to fill jobs in the expanding U.S. economy. Instead, it has fostered the creation of a dangerous and deadly migration black market. The result is that too many Mexicans die trying to cross the border, and too many of those that make it in are vulnerable to exploitation.

But Mexican immigrants, both those already here, and those likely to come in the future, want more than a seasonal guest worker program that is reminiscent of the discredited bracero program. They want what immigrants to the United States have always wanted: the chance to work hard, build a new life and pursue the American dream. These aspirations and behaviors should be rewarded, not criminalized.

What is needed is a comprehensive policy that establishes legality and orderliness as the prevailing norms, creates immigration policies consistent with our history as a nation of immigrants and reduces migration pressures over time. The way to do this is, first, to allow immigrants of good character already established in the United States to become legal permanent residents, next legalize more of the future flow by expanding family reunification visas and by creating a properly crafted temporary visa program in which workers have meaningful access to both labor protections and eventual permanent residence, then expand cooperation between the United States and Mexico to reduce smuggling and save lives at the border, finally help Mexico expand job opportunities at home, in part through the creative use of remittances sent home by immigrants.

Mr. Gramm's "guest-worker only" approach will fall short of what is needed and perpetuate an unacceptable status quo. It is contrary to our tradition of admitting immigrants with the expectation that they will become future citizens. And it will be so controversial and polarizing that it could blow the opportunity of a generation to fix our flawed policies.

Here's hoping he gets on the train and that he doesn't derail it.


FRANK SHARRY

Executive Director

National Immigration Forum

Washington

A populist or a plutocrat?

Dwindling job-approval numbers indicate that a major overhaul of policies is necessary if Karen Hughes, other Bush advisers, and the Republican Party want to get President Bush re-elected ("The Bush ratings," Editorials, July 6). So far, Mr. Bush has shown that his heart and soul favor corporations and the rich. That thread of favoritism runs through his tax cut, energy, environmental, missile-defense and health-care policies. The wealthy special interests that got Mr. Bush elected will always be there for him. They will thrive no matter who is president. To get re-elected in 2004, Mr. Bush must begin to promote policies that appeal to the needs of the majority middle class and the needy. His compassionate conservatism has to get beyond the talking stage. He can turn the tide by becoming more populist, more centrist, less plutocratic and less ultraconservative.


PAUL L. WHITELY SR.

Louisville, Ky.

Saluting VMI's stance against cadets having kids

In response to the July 7 editorial titled "Babes in arms," I am reminded of an inscription on a wall at the Virginia Military Institute that embodies what VMI stands for. In part it states: "The healthful and pleasant abode of a crowd of honorable youths pressing up the hill of science with noble emulation, a gratifying spectacle, an honor to our country and our state, objects of honest pride to their instructors, and fair specimens of citizen soldiers …"

In my view, the VMI Board of Visitors is attempting to protect those ideals with the adoption of their recent policy addressing cadets having children. The opposition to this policy by "groups across the political spectrum, from liberal feminist organizations to conservative pro-life groups" clearly indicates that they view unwed mothers and fathers, who are not fulfilling their parental obligations, as a "gratifying spectacle, an honor to our country, and objects of honest pride." If the rest of society and the courts of law agree with these groups, then I must embrace the words of Thomas Jefferson: "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." It is ironic that those seeking to gain access for individuals interested in the VMI experience also strive to change that which they seek.


CARMEN D. VILLANI JR.

Chantilly

China's captive cats and dissident dogs

Thanks to columnist Michelle Malkin for bringing attention to China's upsetting lead in the competition to host the 2008 Olympic Games ("Olympic-sized victory," Commentary, July 2).

Miss Malkin scolded Americans for "standing on the sidelines saying and doing nothing" about the Chinese government's own do-nothing approach to the cruelty that abounds in China. However, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has taken steps to help ensure that China's gratuitous torture of animals is addressed before China can hope to enjoy the benefits of hosting the Olympics.

Last month, PETA called on Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, to use the IOC's influence to pressure the Chinese government to enact long-overdue national animal protection laws.

In China, cats and dogs are routinely killed for their flesh and fur. Cats are often boiled alive in pressure cookers. Dogs are confined to crowded cages and live under filthy conditions on "dog farms." Before being killed, they are often beaten to increase the flow of adrenaline, which dog flesh peddlers claim improves the flavor of the meat and increases male virility. Thousands of bears are kept in tiny cages for 20 years or more, with catheters implanted in their livers to extract their bile, which is sold as an expensive elixir. Docile calves and ducks are thrown to captive-bred lions at zoos and gladiator-style amusement parks to be slowly ripped apart purely for spectator thrills.

Without a promise from the Chinese government to create and enforce anti-cruelty laws, PETA has asked the IOC to reject Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games. For more information, visit www.peta-online.org.


LIZ WELSH

Staff Writer

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk, Va.

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