Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 14, 2004

Effort to attract more Hispanics will boost city

The Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has joined the Mayor's Hispanic Liaison Office in the effort to promote homeownership among Hispanics. We are engaged in this effort because we believe that homeownership is the key to building wealth.

Yet Gregory Kane's May 5 column "Welcome, Hispanic residents - and tough luck to the rest" suggests that by offering $3,000 housing grants to the Hispanic community, the city is somehow denying such opportunities to others. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Kane's incendiary article employs an age-old tactic - divide and conquer - and attempts to pit other minority communities against Hispanics. But what does he fear? All Hispanics are trying to do is what other minority communities have done: move up the social and economic ladder in this land of opportunity by purchasing a home.

People who own their homes have more stability, invest in their neighborhoods and are more likely to remain in Baltimore and become active in city life. The slumlords and other absentee landlords are put out of business when people buy their homes.

For more than five years, the city has organized trolley tours of Baltimore's neighborhoods for prospective homebuyers. After each tour, the city offered $3,000 grants to a limited number of participants who purchased a home in Baltimore - on a first-to-closing, first-served basis.

Hispanics make up the largest segment of Baltimore's immigrant community (about 35 percent). Yet a review by the city housing department shows that most of the beneficiaries of the program have not been Hispanics but whites (36 percent), blacks (59 percent), Asians (2 percent) and others (2 percent). Just 1 percent of the grants have gone to Hispanics.

The city is trying to correct this inequity, particularly in light of well-known census projections showing that Hispanics are the fastest-growing population in the nation.

By the year 2050, one in four Americans is expected to be of Hispanic extraction.

The city has simply decided it is better to draw these people in than allow them to bypass the city for more welcoming venues. We agree.

Roberto N. Allen

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Latino immigrants work hard in city

As someone who ministers to Latino immigrants in Baltimore, I find the comments by the governor and the comptroller very scary ("Speaking out against `English' comments," May 11).

Did they forget that their ancestors were from other countries and did not speak English when they first arrived? Maybe the comptroller would prefer that all newly arrived immigrants go on welfare until they learn English.

The Latinos whom I encounter are nearly all very hard-working and ambitious, and they work, in most cases, six or seven days a week.

And what is the next step, Mr. Governor?

Should we do away with Columbus Day celebrations and Black History Month?

Mike Flamini

Baltimore

The writer is a Catholic deacon assigned to St. Michael's and St. Patrick's Parish in Fells Point.

Ehrlich, Schaefer seek to save unity

State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should be commended for their remarks instead of being vilified ("Speaking out against `English' comments," May 11).

They are trying to keep the United States united, and there is no surer way to cause disunity than having several languages spoken. English is the unofficial language of this country, and all who come here should expect to learn it.

And as for multiculturalism, it is, as the governor said, "bunk."

Nan B. Cockey

Lutherville

Language barrier can be frustrating

While state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer is not known for his tact, I think I understand what he means ("Speaking out against `English' comments," May 11).

While I am entirely in favor of keeping the United States a haven for immigrants, there can be a frustrating communication problem.

Employees should not be put "on the front line" until their English is understandable, accents and all. But this is the fault of the employer, not the employee.

Dolly Nemec

Parkville

Immigrants add flavor to nation

I was disgusted and disappointed by the comments I read giving kudos to state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer for his recent bigoted remarks ("Comptroller voiced public's frustration" and "Let everyone learn to speak English," letters, May 7).

For hundreds of years, people have come to this country for the freedoms and opportunities we all have here.

Part of what makes this country so great is all the diverse cultures and customs living side by side. It smacks of un-Americanism to suggest that only people who speak English should work here.

What next? Will only those with acceptable accents get jobs? Are we to administer the verbal part of the SAT to everyone entering this country as a condition of citizenship?

Immigrants add welcome flavor to this country. Mr. Schaefer and those who share his opinions add nothing but hatred and negativity.

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