- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Two countries of immigrants

The assertion in the Monday editorial “Jihadists v. fools on the bench” that Canada’s “lax” border enforcement and asylum laws could have potential catastrophic consequences for Americans couldn’t be further from the truth. Shame on The Washington Times for misleading its readers.

Both Canada and the United States have been immigration countries since our births. The majority of immigrants have been and continue to be law-abiding and loyal contributors to our economies and cultures. There always will be a degree of risk involved in allowing large numbers of people into our countries. This risk undoubtedly has increased since September 11.

But there were lessons learned from this case, in which Ahmed Ressam was sentenced to 22 years in prison for plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, as lessons were learned from September 11, when U.S. officials admitted 19 hijackers into the United States. None, by the way, entered from Canada.

Since then, both Canada and the United States have made enormous strides in securing North America. In 2002, Canada toughened its immigration laws to make it more difficult for undesirables to get into the country. We changed the rules for asylum seekers, denying them access to Canada’s refugee determination system until they are positively identified and a full security check has been done on them. Canada also has been particularly effective in keeping out people who are not properly documented. Our network of Migration Integrity Officers in 39 key locations worldwide has been successful in stopping 40,000 people bound for Canada since 2001 with improper documents. Indeed, the United States is beginning to adopt a similar approach.

Perhaps a greater risk to the security of North America is the flow of undocumented people coming into the United States. Conservative estimates show that there are at least 10 million such people in America, with at least a half-million more arriving each year, the vast majority of whom enter clandestinely through the southern border.

JON ALLEN

Charge d’affaires

Embassy of Canada

Washington

Full-time parenting

According to Phil Singer of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Rick Santorum’s book “It Takes a Family” is “offensive to women everywhere” (“Santorum calls out Hillary on raising children,” Page 1, Monday).

As a full-time mom and homemaker, I do not believe this book is offensive, and I resent that Mr. Singer feels he can speak for me and all American women. I appreciate that Mr. Santorum believes there is value in what I and other full-time parents do every day; often in our current society, only parents who work outside the home and have their children raised by others — who may not share their values — are considered “busy” and productive.

During the workweek, full-time mothers are engaged in the raising and molding of the next generation, which is every bit as important as the job of a professional woman. All women should make up their own minds about Mr. Santorum’s book without any pressure from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or any other interest group. Surely, we are capable of that.

JENNIFER WOLFF

Bowie

Florida schools uphold high standards

A recent article in The Washington Times (“Rules changed for Florida schools,” Nation, July 21) quoted a former employee of the U.S. Department of Education who criticized the department’s decision to better align Florida’s A+ plan with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The article says the Department of Education has “changed the rules,” but no rule has been altered.

Florida is one of the few states that had a strong public school accountability system in place before the enactment of the federal law. We introduced our A+ Plan for Education in 1999, calling for high standards and expectations, clear measurement and accountability, and rewards and consequences for results. These are the same principles of NCLB.

Florida was the first state to meet all the principles of the federal law. The Department of Education granted Florida a new provisional adequate yearly progress (AYP) designation that recognizes the outstanding achievement of our highest graded schools. This designation offers flexibility to maximize student achievement.

So, for Florida to be accused of weakening accountability when we request and receive approval from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings for an amendment consistent with the NCLB law is disingenuous. Florida aims for high educational standards for all students; this flexibility is not an attempt to avoid tough federal educational standards.

All students and subgroups are still included in federal accountability calculations.

Contrary to insinuation that we neglect low achievers, we focus on — and our school grades reflect — the gains of our students in the lowest 25 percent. We are seeing progress. This year, for example, 64 percent of standard-curriculum students, 56 percent of students with disabilities, and 68 percent of limited-English-proficient students in the lowest 25 percent made learning gains in reading.

Florida’s A+ plan is working — since 1999, the percentage of fourth-grade African-American students reading at or above grade level has increased from 23 percent to 56 percent (a 33 point gain). Hispanic fourth-graders have made a 29-point gain. Students with disabilities in grades three through 10 have made an 8-point gain since 2001; limited-English-proficient students in grades three through 10 a 13-point gain.

Florida is committed to high student achievement. Florida’s A+ plan counts every student — truly leaving no child behind. Simply making a change in our state plan to better align the results of A+ and NCLB is a smart decision on Florida’s and the federal government’s part.

GOV. JEB BUSH

Tallahassee, Fla.

Random bag searches

Jacob Sullum should be commended for pointing out that the probability of a random search stopping a terrorist is lower than the probability of an innocent rider being searched on any given occasion (“Back to backpack? Search me,” Commentary, Tuesday).

For some Metro riders who realize that a misunderstanding during a search can lead to a cavity search or even an arrest, the prospect of a random search would violate not only the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches, but also the First Amendment free-speech and free-exercise clauses.

During a thorough search, the policeman would notice what the rider is reading, which can provide a glimpse of the rider’s political beliefs. In the case of a policeman who doesn’t understand that it’s possible to be against drugs and still be against the drug war, anyone carrying a magazine or other literature criticizing anti-drug laws would be at risk.

Someone facing a random search would have to avoid reading fundraising letters or newsletters on Metro if they are from a Muslim group, an organization that could be misunderstood as anti-government or a civil liberties group seen as unsympathetic toward police. The risk of a search might prohibit turbans (worn by peaceful Muslim, B’hai and Sikh men but not worn by terrorists who want to blend in with their targets).

If mere feelings, such as those expressed by those New Yorkers who volunteered to be searched, are enough to override civil liberties, such feelings are a greater threat to freedom than is terrorism alone.

JOSHUA DUNN

Burke

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