- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

Aiding economic recovery

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) exercised sound judgment last week when ICE announced that it will defer, for 45 days, the requirement for job applicants to present documentation demonstrating identity and employment eligibility (“Verification rules for workers eased,” Nation, Sept. 9). This will make it easier for the hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans who fled Hurricane Katrina’s destruction without identification documents to find employment.

Since 1986, the law has required all job applicants, including U.S. citizens, to present such documentation. The new ICE policy does not excuse employers from completing Employment Eligibility Verification form I-9, nor does it provide any amnesty for the hiring of undocumented workers.

Unfortunately, ICE’s decision, which is premised not only on humanitarian concerns but also on practical disaster management, does not have universal support. Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, criticized the ICE policy as, in the words of the article, “an invitation to illegal aliens to take jobs at a time when there are hundreds of thousands of Americans looking for a job.”

Ironically, the exact opposite of what Mr. Tancredo said is true. First, the I-9 requirement applies to all workers, including Americans. Relaxing the documentary requirement by 45 days helps fellow Americans displaced by Katrina get jobs.

Legitimate and established American companies worry about compliance with I-9 requirements. Conversely, employers who deliberately hire undocumented workers would not have been concerned about verifying employment eligibility even before the hurricane.

We applaud Mr. Chertoff and ICE for their leadership in allowing hundreds of thousands of American citizens to obtain employment and re-establish their lives and in hastening the economic recovery of the affected regions after the worst natural disaster in our nation’s history.

LYNN SHOTWELL

Executive director

American Council on International Personnel

Washington

SUSAN R. MEISINGER

President and chief executive officer

Society for Human Resource

Management

Alexandria

Success in Armenia

I have a few reflections on Michael Mainville’s article “Armenian angst” (World, Wednesday).

The continuously high level of U.S. assistance to Armenia, which started after the country’s independence in 1991, can be credited to the success of economic, democratic and legal reforms implemented in Armenia. Armenia is both a case study and a success story in economic reform, according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and Armenia’s inclusion in the Millennium Challenge Account last year is testimony of Armenia’s progress according to that program’s criteria of ruling justly, promoting economic freedom and investing in people.

Likewise, a 2004 Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal study ranks Armenia very highly in economic freedom among transitional economies. The liberal economic environment created by government reforms succeeded in generating double-digit growth for the past five years.

These reforms and the commitment of Armenia’s friends to helping it succeed promote more economic growth and further reduce poverty, with spillover effects for social and democratic progress and for eliminating corruption. The best testimony for Armenians’ confidence in their future is also the fact that Armenia started recording net immigration in 2004.

As a country in transition, Armenia has had more than its share of challenges. However, the Armenian leadership has recently demonstrated once more both the will and the desire to promote democracy further and to address the country’s problems. At this stage, this means conducting a constitutional referendum in November to strengthen the checks and balances and provide better self-government for Armenia’s local communities.

TATOUL MARKARIAN

Ambassador of Armenia

Washington

The Pledge in schools

What a deluded youth I was. While attending grade school in the 1960s, I thought my classmates and I were doing the right thing by reciting our beloved Pledge of Allegiance, including the phrase “under God” (“Judge rules against Pledge in schools,” Page 1, Thursday).

None of us saw this minute-long reinforcement of patriotism and pride in one’s country as offensive, nor was it considered a ritual that sought to indoctrinate us in a state religion. I know of no parent who complained that his or her child’s mind was being poisoned through participation in this daily exercise.

In 2005, the politically correct era in which reason and good sense are commonly turned on their heads so as to appease special interests, Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton from the Eastern District of California has determined that students must be “protected” from the pledge, that it is harmful, causing potential offense to atheists, who wish to drive out of public life any reference to God, no matter how benign.

Michael Newdow, the proponent of a lawsuit that triggered this latest court edict, is relentless in his fervor to change our society. Mr. Newdow is a highly intelligent, educated, articulate man. How tragic that his talents and time are not being used for something important, something that will have lasting value to our nation. Instead, he seeks to divide us and force us to tear down long-standing, treasured traditions.

At a time when there is so much public speech and media content that is hateful, profane, anti-social and indecent, it is bizarre that some see the Pledge of Allegiance as posing a great threat to the republic. George Orwell would say, “I told you so. 1984 has arrived.”

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton’s ruling that saying the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional violation of children’s right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God may ultimately serve, conversely, to re-establish the validity of “one nation under God” in the pledge. In August, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that recitation of the pledge is a patriotic activity and that such recitation is not unconstitutional even though it contains a religious phrase. If the 9th Circuit confirms Judge Karlton’s ruling, the obvious conflict between circuits over this highly charged issue would mean that it likely would return to the Supreme Court.

It is unlikely that the court would again sidestep the issue, as it did when it struck down the 9th Circuit’s anti-pledge ruling on procedural grounds in 2004. The nation wants an answer, and it would be unseemly for the Supreme Court to continue playing dodge ball. It also is unlikely that the Supreme Court, which opens each session asking that “God save the United States and this honorable court” will ignore overwhelming American sentiment in favor of the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words “one nation under God.” Nothing in the Constitution expressly prohibits such a phrase, and public references to God are part of America’s historical legacy. Indeed, “In God We Trust” is America’s motto, so whether or not it addresses the issue in terms of church-state separation, the court will figure out a way to sustain the pledge in its current form.

It is said that God works in mysterious ways, but what we may be seeing here is God’s sense of humor, or at least his sense of irony, if plaintiff Michael Newdow’s anti-God crusade in the federal courts ultimately results in the constitutional enshrinement of “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

SAMUEL R. LEWIS

Oak Hill


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