ImmigrantsIn comparing the wave of immigration the U.S...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 17, 1994

Immigrants

In comparing the wave of immigration the U.S. experienced early this century with the current immigrant flow, Richard O'Mara's Oct. 12 interview article with sociologist Alejandro Portes includes two misleading assertions.

First, it states that most new immigrants come here illegally and that the annual number of undocumented entries approaches 1 million.

According to Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates and census data, the total number of immigrants arriving each year -- legal and illegal -- equals about 1 million. Of that number, 200,000 to 300,000 are illegal.

Some 3.5 million undocumented immigrants currently reside in the U.S. They represent 16 percent of a total foreign-born population approaching 22 million.

Maryland's undocumented population is estimated at 27,500, only 9 percent of the foreign-born total. In other words, both nationally and locally, the vast majority of newcomers comes legally.

Secondly, while the article correctly notes that the immigrant population is larger than during the heyday of European immigration, it fails to say that today's immigrants make up a smaller percentage of the population.

According to a recent Urban Institute report, "Immigration and Immigrants: Setting the Record Straight," immigrants were 15 percent of America's total population in 1890-1910. Today, their share is 8 percent.

Given that so much anti-immigrant sentiment is fueled by the fear of being overwhelmed by foreigners, it is important to get the numbers right and to put them in historical perspective.

Over the years, Professor Portes' writings have done just that. I fear that O'Mara's article did not represent him as well as it might.

Frank Bien

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Maryland Office for New Americans.

Important Partner

It was with great interest that I read the series of articles on Maryland's business climate, written by John E. Woodruff (Oct. 30 and 31).

There is an important partner that is never mentioned: the non-profit sector.

To quote statistical information recently released by the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, "Maryland's nonprofit sector plays a formidable role in the economy.

"Maryland's nonprofits spend over $6.1 billion annually. Over 180,000 Marylanders worked for nonprofits, according to the 1990 Census . . .

"Employment growth in the nonprofit sector has substantially outpaced growth in the for-profit and government sectors in recent years."

We have in the nonprofit sector a valuable ally and resource. To ignore this resource is to deprive ourselves of an important partner.

Often we rely on nonprofits to fill gaps in services that are not provided by public or the for-profit sector; seldom do we include all three sectors in long-range planning.

As we develop a comprehensive economic plan for Maryland, now is the time to include the leadership from among all three sectors; government, business and the nonprofit sector.

Suzanne H. O'Hatnick

Baltimore

The writer is president, Maryland International Center.

Distrustful

President Clinton and the leaders of the Democratic Party say that they got the message delivered to them Nov. 8. I hope so, but by reading The Sun Nov. 10, I am not so sure.

Out-going Gov. William Donald Schaefer is quoted as saying that the electorate that would vote for Ellen Sauerbrey was "selfish, not caring, not friendly to each other, and distrustful of political people."

Yes, we do distrust many political career politicians who make very good livings on tax funds and feel they have the right to use the people's funds without consequence as they see fit.

We are tired of seeing billions and billions of dollars wasted and being spent on ever-growing entitlements. We are not uncaring and selfish, just because we want accountability for our hard-earned dollars.

The never-ending river of tax dollars will be drying up. The challenge for government has to become getting the most out of each tax dollar, and to learn that as painful as it is, there are times when enough is enough and people will have to learn they are responsible for their actions and it is up to the individual to overcome, not the U.S. government.

Does this mean that conservatives believe we should pay no taxes? Absolutely not. Taxes are needed for education, police, firefighter, 911, roads etc, and for short-term assistance for individuals in need to get back on their feet.

The mandate issued by voters nationwide Nov. 8 is that we are tired of supporting waste and greed in government.

Appreciate our hard-earned dollar and put them to good use to create a stronger America. We will be watching.

Susan D. Neall

Bel Air

The Bridge at Boys' Latin

I must take great exception to Ann Egerton's article ("Bridging Trouble," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 7).

As headmaster of the Boys' Latin School of Maryland from July, 1992 until this past July, I worked very hard in obtaining support for the construction of this bridge from the Board of Trustees, parents, faculty and students.

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