- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2003

The costs of immigration

Your recent piece touched the tip of the iceberg concerning costs of immigration into our country (“33 million people in U.S. not born here,” Page 1, Wednesday). These figures show a greater crisis.

The Federation of American Immigration Reform reported in August that, based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, Americans pay $7.4 billion annually for educating illegal aliens’ children. In Colorado, the cost broke down to $140.6 million for the state’s estimated 144,000 illegal aliens and their children. Californians paid $2.1 billion.

Even as states struggle with billions in debt, our leaders continue to advocate massive immigration of 1.5 million annually, and they do nothing to stop 800,000 illegal immigrants each year.

Let’s examine the costs. According to the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, illegal aliens have cost U.S. workers $133 billion in job losses. Mexican immigrants send home $10.5 billion annually. In 2002, foreign workers sent $25 billion back home to Latin America, followed by $16 billion to Asia.

U.S. unemployment jumped from 6.1 percent to 6.4 percent in June, which is equal to 18 million Americans out of work. Our country is $6.4 trillion in debt. It’s climbing as our corporations outsource to India and China, while forcing us to pay the $7.4 billion to educate children illegally here. More than 890,000 holders of H-1B visas (for aliens given temporary working status) displaced Americans from their jobs.

Making matters worse, immigrants are a full 75 percent more likely to use food stamps, medical benefits and housing assistance — costing $68 billion annually.

Let’s move to the crime. More than 75 percent of all illegal drugs come across our unguarded borders. More than 25 percent of prisoners in federal prisons are illegal aliens. They cost us $900 million per year to feed and house them.

How about diseases? Try 7,000 new cases of leprosy in three years that have crossed over from Mexico, India and Brazil. Include 16,000 new cases of multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis that is incurable.

I’ve only touched the tip of the Titanic iceberg of America’s crisis as it avalanches into more states. It’s going to get ugly, and then, uglier.

FROSTY WOOLDRIDGE

Louisville, Colo.

OxyContin ‘safe and effective’ for pain treatment

In the Washington area and across the country, people who have serious, persistent pain are denied access to medications such as OxyContin by doctors’ fears that they will be seen as “pushers” (“OxyContin a scourge for users in rural areas,” Page 1, Tuesday). These increasingly desperate patients go from doctor to doctor, who, even though all other treatments have failed, refuse to consider medication or prescribe only at the weakest doses. Those who treat pain using these medications face legal and regulatory sanctions that are fueled by media hysteria and a disregard for the facts.

In fact, OxyContin has been determined by the Food and Drug Administration to be “safe and effective” for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Its long-acting properties, if not defeated by would-be abusers, are extremely valuable to those who need a steady-state medication. The measure of appropriate medication is not the number of pills or the amount of the medication, but improved function. Pain patients do better with the medication than without. They can go to work, play with grandchildren and otherwise improve the quality of their lives.

Addicts, in contrast, use drugs in the face of dramatic dysfunction. They ruin their lives and the lives of those who love them. They steal medications and lie to doctors about their pain. Doctors are not detectives, and there is no way to determine how much pain any person is feeling.

Therefore, except in rare cases, doctors are not the pushers; they are the victims. Holding them accountable for the misdeeds of their patients makes no sense. Despite the many unsubstantiated references in your article to doctors as the problem, when it really gets down to the facts, the article concedes that OxyContin abuse began when coal miners with real, painful diseases and injuries were rightly treated for their pain. The article also concludes that it was the “curious teens,” who stole medications, who caused the problem of OxyContin abuse, not the doctors.

MARY BALUSS

The Pain Law Initiative

Washington

U.S.-Saudi relations

Wesley Pruden’s Aug. 29 column, “When saying goodbye means good riddance,” starts by commenting on the last American troops pulling out of Saudi Arabia and ends by suggesting that everyone at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington should be deported to Riyadh. This is the stuff al Qaeda dreams are made of: confrontation between the cradle of Islam and the world’s superpower.

As early as 1997, when Peter Arnett interviewed him for CNN, Osama bin Laden criticized Saudi Arabia for its friendship with the United States. By choosing 15 Saudis out of the ranks of his cult, which has members from more than 60 countries, he attacked the United States and laid the blame on its closest ally in the Islamic world.

Now, facts are no longer needed when criticizing Saudi Arabia. Mr. Pruden can state that Saudis are “pouring into Iraq by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, to shoot at American soldiers,” even though Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said earlier this week that “we’ve got a relatively few number of Saudis” and another State Department official told United Press International, “I’ve heard the ballpark figure of 15.” Yet, Mr. Pruden can continue to write what he pleases — and as long as it is critical of Saudi Arabia, almost nobody will bother to check his facts.

Mr. Pruden’s litany of demonizing statements is even more offensive when one considers their subtle insinuations, such as when he describes the alleged predicament of President Bush in the following: “It couldn’t have been pleasant, for example, to entertain Saudi princes at Prairie Chapel Ranch, particularly when his wife and daughters were there.”

There are many different kinds of incitement, and many different ways to preach hatred in public.

NAIL AL-JUBEIR

Director of information

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

Washington

Health care for the children of the future

While your recent article on international child health and HIV/AIDS explores the wrenching choices to be made in allocating scarce aid resources, it leaves out a crucial part of the story regarding U.S. funding for these global health initiatives (“Child health dilemma,” Page 1, Sunday).

When President Bush announced his $15 billion AIDS initiative earlier this year, he promised that this funding — desperately needed and long overdue — would not come at the expense of other foreign aid programs. However, the following month, the president’s proposed budget called for cuts in funding for child survival initiatives that would have placed those programs at a level of funding lower than that of fiscal 1997, six years ago.

Although Congress subsequently restored this funding, it seems that the Bush administration has yet to accept the conclusions embraced by much of the international public health community. Basic child health interventions are necessary both in their own right and as a complement to HIV/AIDS programs, and any viable foreign aid strategy must include sufficient funding for both.

JESSICA LEIGHT

Advocacy co-coordinator

Student Campaign for Child Survival

New Haven, Conn.

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