Illegal Immigrants Merit Fair Treatment

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In an opinion piece that appeared in the July 11 edition of the Roundup titled "Illegal immigrants deserve services," I expressed my opposition to a new initiative that could be on the state ballot in November of 2004.

Part of the initiative would require everyone, illegal immigrants and citizens alike, to prove their legal status in the United States before receiving social services like housing subsidies, food stamps and even library cards.

The initiative's roots lie in racism. Because the federal government turns a blind eye to illegal immigrants by allowing them to live here, it cannot possibly ignore their need for social services.

The barrage of opposition to the commentary was incredible. So many questions were posed in the letters, that I felt a responsibility to respond with expediency and accuracy. I chose one question on which to focus all of my energies:

Is Amanda "so impassioned in her position that she cannot see the similarities between illegal immigrants and a common burglar? They come into your home, uninvited, often under the cover of night. They help themselves to things that you worked and paid for, in this case social services, and rightfully belong to you as a legal citizen."

I cannot see the similarities between illegal immigrants and common burglars. Here is a more accurate metaphor:

Undocumented immigrants come to the United States because, in effect, their house is burning around them. The average annual income of someone living in Mexico is $8,000, while people working in America earn on average $30,000 a year.

Now if you lived in Mexico, wouldn't you want to come to America?

I would. And many do, but a common misconception of illegal immigrants is that they "help themselves to social services that (citizens) worked and paid for."

This is completely untrue. They pay sales tax just as much as the average American. And if they get a job ---- and most of them do ---- they pay income tax. The only difference here is that they don't get that nice little tax refund at the end of the year, so believe it or not, they more than pay for their own social services, which is why they deserve them as much as you and I.

Illegal immigrants come here because they don't have jobs and America does. They come here illegally because they cannot afford to literally wait years to pass myriad legalization requirements. And they stay because we let them through our poor excuse for immigration legislation.

Before trying to get their petty initiative on the ballot, those who want to stop illegal immigrants from receiving social services should realize that doing so makes them a bad neighbor.

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