Time for Some Thoughtful Discussion on Illegal Immigration

RECEIVED Mon., June 26, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: Letter to the editor by Greg Solcher, "Ventura Wrong on Immigration" [“Postmarks,” June 23]: The issue of immigration is so hugely complex that I believe it does us a disservice to reduce it to being about money, or even “the law.” Whether we like it or not, illegal immigrants are part of our society. The food we eat, the pavement under our feet, the roof that shelters us – all of these and more are touched by someone who arrived here illegally. Most of the people who crossed into our country illegally want the same things as the rest of us (whose ancestors arrived sometime earlier): a job, dignity, health, a better world for their children.
    My argument comes down to both realism and compassion. No, I don't support "breaking the law" as a rule. Nor do I support seeing the world in black and white: lawbreakers vs. the rest of us. But I think that reverting to the discussion-stopping argument that illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, period, is facile and designed to portray them in black and white (just like the dehumanizing term "illegals"). People come here by and large because the lives they live elsewhere have become unlivable, and we must remind ourselves "There but for the grace of God go I."
    Finally, we must consider the children of immigrants, many of whom have never known a home other than the U.S. I favor legislation that would protect these children and their families.
    So I end this letter by saying that while you may dismiss an argument or its proponent as being full of shit, I urge you not to dismiss decent human beings as money-siphoning "illegals," no matter what river they crossed in their desire to improve their lives. In another set of circumstances, that could be you and me.
Susanna Sharpe
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