Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 29, 2003

Question: Mayor Martin O'Malley recently suggested that by 2010 Baltimore would have a Hispanic population that "rivals that of Washington D.C." Do you think attracting more immigrants would help revitalize Baltimore? And what can the city do to bring in more newcomers?

Newcomer strain our limited resources

If Mayor Martin O'Malley would spend some time looking at the problems of social services, homeland security and the rights of Americans, he would not be so fast to welcome immigration.

As I travel Maryland daily, visiting construction sites, I encounter hard-working Hispanics doing a good job for less pay than the average American receives. But I continually wonder how many of them have illegally entered this country.

In California alone today, there are about 1 million illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanic.

With our country at war and concern for national security high, it is time to boost our efforts to secure our borders on a national level and to identify those illegally in this country on a state and local level.

The Hispanic community needs to understand that we are a country of laws and that the laws of our country protect all citizens of the United States.

Hispanics cannot illegally immigrate into our country and then expect us to make special exceptions for them.

Mayor Martin O'Malley and other elected officials see the Hispanic community as a major voting bloc, and turn their heads to illegal immigration, while they have their hands out for funding for homeland security.

But our homeland will never be secure as long as our borders are full of holes.

Michael Collins

Reisterstown

I am totally against putting out the welcome mat for Hispanic immigrants.

Yes, in other cities, Hispanics have brought revenue, but there is also a downside.

Once you open the door to legal immigrants there will be a rush of illegal ones right behind them. And where are we going to get the money to teach English as a second language courses with our city schools already crying broke?

Our jails are already overcrowded, and immigrants bring gangs, drugs and crime. And immigrants generally work in low-paying service jobs, which have been historically held by blacks. All around the state I now see jobs being done by Hispanics that African-Americans once held.

The mayor needs to take a closer look at cities with large Hispanic populations.

Shirley Hopkins-Thomas

Owings Mills

Immigration is running at record highs with no end in sight. It is fueling massive population increases all across America, and complicating every environmental challenge the nation faces.

If Baltimore wants more immigrants, there are plenty already here in the United States -- 32 million -- to choose from.

Studies show that areas with lower levels of immigration have more social stability, a more stable middle class and far less social inequality. And cities attract low-wage immigrant workers by destroying housing codes, thereby overcrowding housing stock and public resources.

Baltimore residents can take a tour of Los Angeles if they want to see what mass immigration means to a city: decimated public education, unaffordable housing, massive congestion and sprawl, strained health care resources and -- unless one is very rich -- a very tough environment in which to raise a family.

What immigration does provide is a source of cheap labor for employers who won't pay a living wage. But who pays the costs for this labor? Who pays for education, anti-poverty assistance, housing assistance, infrastructure improvements, criminal justice costs, etc.? We taxpayers do.

We need more immigration only if we need more traffic, more building on farmland and wetlands (and around the bay), greater burdens on public education, more strain on our courts, higher welfare costs and a bankrupt public health system.

The fact is we need less -- a lot less -- immigration, not more.

Dan Stein

Washington

The writer is executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

If any of the immigrants coming to Baltimore are not self-supporting, what will the benefit to Baltimore be?

And with the city already in financial straits, how could encouraging more immigrants enhance that situation?

Such immigrants would very likely take whatever employment might be available (regardless of salary). Although that might help Baltimore's tax base, it may cause conflict with others who are out of work in part because of the weak economy.

This, in turn, could escalate into serious civil problems, which would only make matters worse.

Garland L. Crosby Sr.

Baltimore

Attracting more immigrants would not help revitalize Baltimore.

Through no fault of their own, when immigrants first come to a country they have little or no knowledge about their new homeland or the skills needed to survive in it.

With the economy down and unemployment on the rise, those who are already residents of the city are having enough trouble finding jobs.

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