Stern view of optometrist article While I found the...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 04, 2000

Stern view of optometrist article

While I found the article by William Zorzi "All eyes on lobbyists in a rematch over drops" (Feb. 22) entertaining reading, it fell well short of being good reporting.

Good reporting fosters an understanding of the issues under consideration. Mr. Zorzi, instead, chose to focus on the lobbyists and their personalities and what he describes as "legislative blood feuds."

Optometry is a limited license profession. The scope of its practice is determined by law.

Over the last 80 years, optometry has undergone a tremendous transformation as the result of significant changes in education, training and clinical experience.

But the only way the laws governing it can be changed to reflect optometrists' current education and skills is by educating the legislators who can create or change the law.

Yes, lobbyists play an important role in facilitating this process and they appropriately represent their clients to the best of their abilities.

It is the process that is important, however, not the individuals involved.

I also take serious issue with Mr. Zorzi's portrayal of optometrists as those "who perform vision tests and prescribe eyeglasses."

Optometrists are highly trained primary eye-care professions who assess eye health, perform diagnostic procedures and treat eye disease, as well as assess visual performance and the appropriate remedies for vision problems.

As primary eye-care practitioners, they should have available to them all the tools they are trained to use.

I have for years watched The Sun sensationally depict the conflict between optometrists and opthamologists as a battle of titans.

However, I would much prefer that The Sun assisted the public in developing a true understanding of the issues.

Dr. Paul D. Brant, Cambridge

Key immigration facts ignored

The Sun's recent article "Indentured servants for high-tech trade" (Feb. 21) was one of the most biased, one-sided reports I have recently read.

It only quoted critics of the H-1B visa program. It ignored several key facts. And the reporter never bothered to get comments from some key participants mentioned in the article, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

As a result, the article on the basis of a few isolated bad examples unfairly besmirched a business visa program important to our continued economic growth.

No legitimate user of the H-1B program or immigration attorney wants to see fraud or abuse. In fact, we feel that people and firms that are wrongly awarded visas should be investigated, prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.

Our reasons include enlightened self-interest: Bad examples detract from the legitimate uses of temporary foreign professionals and thereby hurt a program the United States badly needs.

The program is not a high-tech sector visa.

It is, in fact, used extensively by U.S. government agencies (including the departments of defense and energy), colleges and universities, pharmaceutical firms, health care institutions, research entities textile firms -- and even by breweries and local drug stores.

The Sun ignored the fact that both the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the U.S. Department of Labor are charged with investigating and prosecuting abuses within the H-1B program. But they have not done so vigorously.

For example, the 1998 law extending the visas established new criteria by which companies are judged in obtaining H-1B visas and required the Labor Department to issue regulations implementing those provisions. Yet two years later, the department has yet to issue those regulations.

A fair and balanced report would also have included the hoops a company must jump through to obtain an H-1B visa and the steps that the INS and Labor Department are supposed to take to see that the applicant is legitimate.

Finally, the report ignored the growing recognition that the H-1B program will help ensure that our unprecedented economic boom continues.

Over the past year, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan repeatedly has warned that a severe shortage of workers (especially among professionals) could threaten our current economic expansion.

Mr. Greenspan has said repeatedly that one solution to the shortage is to allow more immigrants into this country.

It was a disservice for The Sun to only quote critics of the H1-B program; not to call key participants mentioned; and to ignore the facts about the program.

Steven A. Clark, Washington

The writer is president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Raising funds for farms

Raw, unbridled greed is a tough thing to stomach. It's ugly.

Some would call that an unfair characterization of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The trust, after all, is a nonprofit organization created by the legislature in 1985 to create public awareness and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake.

They're the folks who give out grants to causes they consider worthwhile from money from sales of "blue heron" license plates.

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