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Monday, December 17 , 2018, 12:15 am | Fair 50º


Letter to the Editor: Sensible Immigration Reform

Mark Cromer’s article makes the point that I and many other U.S. citizens are tired of being labeled “racist” for favoring a real solution to illegal immigration. I am not anti-immigrant or a racist.

After many years of traveling in Santa Barbara and the greater Los Angeles area by boat, bus and bicycle, I am convinced that illegal immigrants are our best citizens. The buses in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange County are usually majority Hispanic and, I think, majority illegal immigrant (there I go racially profiling, huh?). In most cases, there are more bicyclists who are probably illegal immigrants, and when I ride or walk in school zones, I see more folks that I would give this profile to walking their kids to school.

Since this is the behavior that can give us a future, they are my choice as citizens, but the irony is that if we legalize them, they will no longer be good citizens because they will get cars, get off the bus and bicycles, and drive their kids to school like most of us.

As someone who has worked in maintenance landscaping, restaurants and construction, I also understand that employers have used illegal immigrants to hold wages down in these trades and others. Millions of illegal immigrants hold jobs in these trades, and in meat packing and hotel trades as well. In fact, employers have all but ruined the meat-cutters/butchers union this way.

It is not true that these are jobs U.S. citizens do not want. Have you seen Thom Hartmann on this? It is the frozen wages that U.S. workers don’t want, not the jobs.

Construction framers and laborers make little more than I did 30 years ago in this work because employers can take advantage of illegal immigrants. The plan to allow illegal immigrants to keep the jobs will do little to restore the wages since supply and demand will still have about 12 million immigrants competing for the work.

In addition to having worked in most of the trades most impacted by illegal immigrants, I have spent a lot of time in the their homelands — Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. I was an international election observer last year in El Salvador, a country with more than a quarter of its citizens in the United States.

In a meeting with President Barack Obama, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes replied to Obama’s pledge of immigration reform by asking for restoration of opportunity in El Salvador. He is aware that U.S. trade and aid policies have destroyed that opportunity and that immigration has been destructive to the social fabric of El Salvador, taking its most ambitious citizens, breaking up families and communities, depriving citizens of the right to vote in their homeland elections and leading to gangs because of the broken families.

I continue to think the only reform that will work for U.S., Mexican and Central American workers is reform that rebuilds the small enterprise and farming in the homelands of the immigrants. Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA. He should do so and include CAFTA and examine foreign aid as well. We should use microloans to assist in this! A microloan equivalent to one visit to the emergency room, the only health-care option they have, would do it.

Lane Anderson
Santa Barbara

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