- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Bringing immigration reform into the information age

Sens. Jon Kyl, Edward M. Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein and Sam Brownback deserve thanks from all American citizens for their promising efforts to bring the nation's tracking of foreign visitors into the information age ("Approval seen on visa rules," Jan. 15). Passage of their visa-holder tracking legislation would be a first, but important, step in combating illegal immigration by those who overstay their visas. It suggests that some members of our political ruling class have begun to grasp the intimate connection between the rising tide of illegal immigration and the atrocities of September 11. For Mr. Kennedy, it also serves as partial penance for his leading role in passing the disastrous Immigration Act of 1965, which resumed mass immigration, which, in turn, has spurred illegal immigration.
Your reporter deserves recognition, too, for steadfastly using the word "amnesty" to characterize legislative proposals that would let visa violators remain in the country and apply for legal residency. Lawyers of the National Immigration Forum, who can be counted upon to put their billable hours ahead of the national interests in security and cultural cohesiveness, apparently couldn't persuade him to use any of their preferred euphemisms for amnesty, such as "regularization" or "adjustment of status."

Redondo Beach, Calif.

The Constitution is no 'impediment'

Nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court clearly ruled that bans on what proponents call "partial-birth abortion" violate the Constitution, your paper continues to misrepresent the issue to your readership ("Pro-life side sees 'impediment'," Jan. 17). In the 2000 case Stenberg vs. Carhart, the court recognized the Nebraska version of this ban for what it was: an extreme and deceptive attempt to ban all abortions.
Rather than prohibiting "late-term" abortions, as The Washington Times suggests, the Nebraska ban and the nearly identical federal versions contained no reference to the stage of pregnancy to which their harsh penalties applied. In fact, the Nebraska legislature rejected an amendment that specifically would have limited the law to apply to the latter part of pregnancy. The bill's sponsor asserted that the amendment would change "what the bill is designed to do."
The laws also did not describe one type of medical procedure. Rather, they could be interpreted to ban some of the safest procedures used throughout pregnancy. They made no exceptions for a threat to a woman's health, but they demanded criminal penalties as severe as life in prison for a doctor trying to save a patient's fertility.
For these reasons, the U.S. Supreme Court joined courts across the nation in ruling these bans unconstitutional. This decision is not just an "impediment" to be overcome by anti-choice members of Congress; it is a clear repudiation of a strategy built on misrepresentation. The search for ways to pass such unconstitutional legislation is the kind of waste of time and resources that sours the American people's faith in government. Furthermore, when educated about these bans, most Americans do not support them. Voters in Maine, Washington and Colorado, the only three states to address this issue directly, soundly defeated the bans in referendums.

Director, Washington Office
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy

No safety without a national ID card

Our national security is in peril, and you are needlessly rattling your cage by objecting to a national identification card with an integrated visa tracking system ("Your papers please," Jan. 21). Though the necessity for such a card is lamentable, we no longer have the luxury of choice.
Any meaningful immigration policies we may have had collapsed long ago. In addition, our Immigration and Naturalization Service continues to suffer from incompetent management. It is time for substantial changes. We need to know who belongs here and who doesn't, who has overstayed their visas, who is eligible to vote, etc. Without the ability to track that information, every American is at risk.
Furthermore, those who have nothing sinister to hide have nothing to fear from a national ID card with an integrated visa tracking system. No one whines about a loss of privacy or civil rights when applying for a passport, Social Security number, mortgage, driver's license, college loan, credit card or food stamps. Nor does anyone object to providing the information required for filing state and federal tax returns or filling out medical forms. Unquestionably, those forms require far more information than would a national ID.
Finally, while you are quick to criticize a national ID card and visa tracking system, you neglect to offer a better idea for protecting our national security.


Thankful to be an American

I was so struck by Balint Vazsonyi's column on Irving Berlin that I read it several times before clipping and copying it for my friends and acquaintances, both native- and foreign-born, Republican and Democratic ("Irving Berlin for all reasons," Commentary, Jan. 13).
So often in the past, I have pondered the repudiation of America and all it stands for by many who benefit quite handsomely from the very society they damn. I have been shocked to learn that in most of our country's schools, students don't even know, much less say, the Pledge of Allegiance. All the while, I have marveled at the ingenious ways those in other countries plot and save and risk their lives to reach our shores and be part of a political system so disdained by many of our own.
Though it may be understandable that those who succumbed to a vision of utopia supported communism as a panacea in its early years, it boggles the mind that those who have been shown the truth behind the facade and the ravages and depravations of that and other systems can say anything other than, "Thank God I'm an American."
Are Americans perfect? Of course not. Does our system need constant evaluation and do our citizens require constant prodding so America will continue to be a light unto the nations? Naturally. But why must we be subjected to a constant barrage of "mea culpas" when no other nation on Earth is so involved in bettering the lives of all the world's people?
Perhaps if we required that all American teen-agers spend at least one year living and working in another country, our teens would return with a new appreciation for what they have here and they would repudiate not what America stands for, but rather, those who rush to denigrate it.
"God Bless America" is more than a song; it is a fervent plea.

Coral Gables, Fla.

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