Can arrests solve our border woes?

SATURDAY MAILBOX

July 05, 2008

With their raid on Monday against workers for an Anne Arundel County painting contractor and their families, federal immigration officials (and in this case, county law enforcement officers) continue to target the least powerful and most vulnerable among the many businesses, families and individuals who are being gravely disserved by our country's failed immigration system ("Advocates rally after raid, arrests," July 2).

In this 21st century, in which people, ideas, commerce and information will continue to flow more and more freely across borders and around our shrinking globe, our federal system charged with regulating the all-important flow of people has broken down.

But instead of addressing this breakdown through the legislative and administrative system, the Bush administration has chosen to commit its considerable resources to a high-profile enforcement strategy that directly targets workers.

This strategy may perhaps mollify a certain political base, but it is otherwise manifestly ineffective in addressing the issue of undocumented immigration.

Raids result in a few thousand arrests a year - out of an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids terrorize and tear apart families and communities of hardworking people. But despite their high human cost, they do nothing to solve the very real crisis in our immigration system.

Maureen A. Sweeney, Baltimore

The writer teaches in the immigration clinic at the University of Maryland School of Law.

The illegal aliens in Anne Arundel County got what they deserved. At last, government has done something right, and County Executive John R. Leopold should be applauded, not condemned.

It's high time we kick all the 12 million illegal aliens out of the United States.

It's our country, not theirs, and it's time to take it back.

Blaine Taylor, Towson

Slavery is illegal in this country, yet something like slavery continues, albeit in another form, as illegal immigrants work here for wages substantially below those that would be paid to legal citizens.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office should be commended for doing its job in Anne Arundel County.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

In the name of national security, the Department of Homeland Security has adopted practices that routinely violate the basic rights of people in this country, particularly immigrants.

DHS regularly conducts aggressive raids on homes and workplaces that sometimes round up hundreds of people, often including citizens and legal residents.

One such raid took place in Anne Arundel County on Monday and arrested 45 people.

After such raids, those detained often do not have access to legal counsel or due process and are often also denied the right to speak with their families.

We certainly need workable solutions to our immigration problem that protect national security without sacrificing basic human rights and the dignity of the human person.

But until the federal government has a comprehensive immigration plan in place, such raids should stop.

Sister Agnes Oman, Salisbury

The writer is associate director of the Hispanic Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del.

Push much faster for fuel efficiency

Four-dollar-per-gallon gasoline and rising electricity prices are the result of decades of failed American energy policy - a policy that has focused on giveaways to oil and gas companies while ignoring the fuel economy of our cars and trucks and failing to develop our vast potential to use renewable energy and increase our energy efficiency ("$4-a-gallon gas taking a toll," July 1).

For seven years, President Bush has been in a position to lower gasoline prices and lessen our dependence on foreign oil by working to raise fuel economy standards, and for seven years he refused to act.

If President Bush were truly serious about reducing gas prices, he would stop dragging his heels and fully implement the higher fuel economy standards Congress passed in December.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has proposed regulations to implement that law that would increase average gas mileage by the smallest amount the law allows.

I urge the Bush administration to raise gas mileage at the fastest rate and by the largest amount the law allows.

Elizabeth Himeles, Baltimore

The writer is an intern for Environment Maryland.

Bikers need lane into downtown

I, too, am a recreational cyclist living in Baltimore ("Charm City still challenges cyclists," letters, June 28).

I consider myself fairly street savvy, and I have no problem riding north into the Greenspring Valley on the roads. However, riding from my home to my office in downtown Baltimore is a different story.

All we bikers need is one road with a big bike lane to get access to downtown.

Riding downtown from north of the city is pretty easy. I seldom break a sweat in the process; it's all downhill. Coming home, the terrain is a bit more challenging. But the real challenge is the traffic.

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