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Alien Nation

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Words do have meaning yet, I hope. As does conciseness and exactitude. In these days when Bush & Co. cast their pollution-increasing environmental policies as "blue skies" policy, it does take a critical eye to discern objectivity versus subjectivity or spin. In Ms. Connelly's review of There's No Jose Here ["Invisible America," January 26], re immigrant life in America, she bends the truth when she says the author, Gabriel Thompson, "avoids taking a stand on the immigration debate" and then gives as an example of his lack of bias his word choices thus: "While Enrique is a documented immigrant--Thompson uses documented and undocumented rather than legal and illegal."

The decision to avoid using the word illegal in reference to immigrants here illegally is a conscious bias and does smack of spin. It is important and germane to rational discussion of immigration that the word illegal as it relates to undocumented aliens is used rather than the word undocumented, which is so, so nebulous and meaningless. Honest, open debate requires honest words that accurately describe a situation.

I am a true liberal, left-wing American who does not like being dismissed as a "nativist," a "racist," or a xenophobe. This is not about civil rights. Illegal aliens are criminals, period. Stop saying we're anti-immigrant, when the truth is we are only anti-illegal immigrant. Millions of people the world over want to come here for a better life, and there is a process by which they can legally do that. Sneaking across the border to avoid having to wait in line and be processed and checked out before being allowed to enter our country is criminal. Trying to play victim by saying their families will be torn apart if they are deported because their "anchor babies" are legal U.S. citizens and wouldn't have to be deported is a phony ruse. The choice and responsibilty is with the parents of the children; if the parents are criminal illegal aliens and are to be deported, the parents must choose what they want to do with their kids.

They can take them back home with them to their country of origin or they can leave them here; it is their choice. No one is forcing their families to be broken up. Take the kids back to their own home countries, and their families will stay intact.

To argue that with 12 million illegal immigrants already here that it is too late to do anything about them now is also false. They didn't get here in one day, and we won't get them all deported in one day, but you have to start somewhere. Eventually, yes, all 12 million illegals will be deported. It's bad enough that our government's economic and trade policies have shipped so many good-paying manufacturing jobs overseas. We do not have to compound that mistake with importing cheap labor (in the form of illegal immigrants) to save businesses from paying living wages to real Americans holding on to the jobs that have yet to be exported overseas.

It is not our job to fix Mexico's economy at the cost of Americans' standard of living. The real answer is to improve the wages paid in Mexico, instead of hurtling headlong into a race to the bottom of lower and lower wages here in America. Fair trade is the answer; tear up "free trade" policy agreements until they are not giveaways to big business with nothing but scraps for the workers who create the wealth of the businesses.

Again, to the illegal immigrants here in America, I say "Go back home and stop running away from your problems there. Rise up there in Mexico and force real social change there!" Coming to America as an illegal immigrant and then wrapping yourself in the banner of civil rights and disobedience here in America instead of in your own country of Mexico is wrongheaded in so many ways I could go on all night.

Mark M. Pepp

Humboldt Park

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