"Embracing illegals" (Cover Story, July 18) made me absolutely furious. Illegal aliens sneak into the U.S. in defiance of our laws; they take our jobs and lower our wages. To add insult to injury, we, the American taxpayers, have to pay for their health care, education for their children, help with the rent, and food stamps. Now our federal and local governments are rewarding illegal aliens by making it possible for them to buy homes.
Meanwhile, my newlywed daughter and her husband, both American citizens, are paying off their school loans, and it will be a freezing day in hell before they can afford to buy a home of their own! In its quest for taxpayer-subsidized illegal labor, our government is destroying the United States of America.
By the way, I'm Hispanic.
Laguna Woods, Calif.
There are hundreds of thousands of workers like me who are trying to immigrate to this country legally and are having to go to ridiculous cost and inconvenience to do so. I am on an H1 visa and have been applying for a green card for the past five years. I have spent almost $10,000 of my own money and am still at least two years from achieving my goal. If I lost my job tomorrow, I would have to sell my house and tell my two American sons that we were moving back to Europe because the U.S. government won't let us stay here.
I have a graduate degree from an Ivy League university and am a highly paid professional, yet I have to jump through burning hoops to stay here. The immigration policy of this country needs to be radically changed to reflect the reality that immigration is good for the economy.
The real white-collar criminals of this country are not the Lays, Skillings, Kozlowskis. The criminals are the chief executives and small-business owners who hire illegal aliens, provide them financial services, and otherwise create an incentive for them to force their way into America in violation of a raft of state and federal laws. These white-collar criminals are driving down wages and in the process destroying local economies while simultaneously driving up costs for local taxpayers.
As President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. (AH&LA) representing 10,000 properties across the country, and having been a part of the lodging industry for more than 40 years, I must take exception to the statement that "farms, hotels, restaurants, small manufacturers, and other employers have continued to hire the undocumented with little regard to the federal laws intended to stop them." Hotels and other U.S. employers are required by federal law to complete and retain an Employment Eligibility Verification form (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9) for each worker. Form I-9 requires, among other things, the employee to present certain documents verifying eligibility for employment.
Employers must walk a very fine line with regard to our nation's immigration laws. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, if the documents "appear on their face to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them," employers must accept them. Questioning the validity of such documents is considered to be "an unfair immigration-related employment practice" that could result in fines of up to $10,000, while hiring an employee without proper documents or accepting documents that clearly are not genuine is a serious violation of federal laws and will result in fines of up to $11,000 and up to six months in prison.
Your article also points to the need for legislative reform to help address a very serious issue driving the problem of illegal immigration -- a shortage of workers, especially in lesser skilled, essential positions. Currently, the AH&LA's career center lists more than 6,300 available lodging industry jobs in the U.S. While the federal government should closely oversee immigration to verify the identity and intentions of those entering the U.S., there is a great need to increase the number of legal immigrant workers who enter the U.S. through programs such as the H-2B visa for temporary and seasonal workers.
Joseph A. McInerney
President and CEO
American Hotel & Lodging Assn.
I live in an agricultural area. All of the tree pruners, apple pickers, and onion field workers are Mexican or Latin Americans. There are no white, middle-, or lower-class people who will work those hard, physically demanding jobs 10 or 12 hours per day (certainly not your Harvard MBAs). These people are performing a valuable service to our nation. Let us give them green cards to come and work here. Let us give those who have settled here citizenship. We need positive action to help those among us who work so hard to make our lives better.
Roy A. Zingmark
Your story reflects a one-sided pro-illegal immigration bias. Illegal immigrants cost federal, state, and local taxpayers tens of billions of dollars per year in health-care, education, and law-enforcement resources. Hospitals are going bankrupt; school systems and jails are severely strained. American taxpayers ought to have more say in how their tax dollars are spent. Instead, they are being forced to subsidize the businesses that promote and profit by illegal immigration. A day of reckoning is coming.
The Woodlands, Tex.
Thank you for highlighting the economic contributions undocumented workers make to the American economy. It is time for a rational and sane process to allow these workers to become legal. In addition, children of undocumented parents, who are themselves not documented, should be entitled to change their status and be allowed to enroll in college and receive in-state tuition and some form of state and federal aid. Many of these children graduate from high school with good grades but have no access to higher education. As a result, American companies are missing out on a pool of potentially talented employees.
Harvest of Hope Foundation
The average illegal alien buys comparatively little in the U.S. compared with what he takes out of the economy. Aliens' use of social services and infrastructure are far in excess of the taxes they pay. Immigrants send much of their wages out of the country. Mexicans, for example, send home $20 billion annually. That is money that doesn't get recycled here!
Joan K. Smith
Mt. Morris, Mich.