In response to your Jan. 2 editorial "Mexican IDs in the US": The IDs mentioned, known as matriculas, are official recognition of a person's residence in the United States. Without a matricula, a person cannot make a police report or obtain a driver's license and is, in effect, invisible.
While these immigrants may be invisible, they are nevertheless present. They take care of our children and our elderly, they cut our lawns, and they prepare our meals. They do all of this for less than minimum wage, without any guarantees of health insurance or a pension. And they pay taxes, too.
The matriculas are necessary because the US government continues a wrong-headed immigration policy. Political and corporate leaders believe it is fine to take advantage of cheap labor to boost profits, but don't recognize that this exploitation is the engine for most immigration - legal and otherwise.
To blame the exploited Mexican worker is lazy, and to believe that immigration into the US from the south can be solved by "sealing the border" is like believing the recording industry is going out of business because of piracy. In both cases, the complainers (corporate America) are weeping all the way to the bank.
The Rev. Michael Seifert
Regarding "Mexican IDs in the US": Please do not fail to take into account the historical fact that for centuries many Mexican families lived in Southwestern states. As a result of United States victory in the US-Mexican war, the border crossed these citizens. The demographic effects of the original settlement remain.
One cannot deny that the fates (and histories) of the US, Mexico, and Canada are inextricably intertwined and that a long-term solution to problems caused by immigration must be worked out in a reasonable, humane, and effective manner - certainly not by labeling people as federal criminals.
US immigration lawyer and consultant
Regarding your Dec. 31 article "Can Musharraf take a back seat?": Congratulations on an excellent piece. No one should be fooled into thinking the November parliamentary elections injected a dose of democracy into Pakistan. With a fractured mandate, strong fundamentalist parties in power in the influential Northwest Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, and ongoing resentment of US military operations in the region, the new government is a rubber stamp in the hands of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
The military establishment's grip on Pakistani politics hasn't dwindled in its 55-year history; there is no reason to think it will now. This is seen in its support of Islamic terrorists waging war in Kashmir. In spite of Mr. Musharraf's assurances to curb these terrorist elements (many trained by the former Taliban regime), militant activities have only increased since attacks on India's Parliament nearly brought the countries to a nuclear Armageddon last year. This policy is dictated by Pakistan's military leadership.
The Bush administration should be aware that, while pretending to ally with the West in the war on terrorism, Musharraf did little to quench the fire on the Indian border. Al Qaeda terrorists have been released from jails by Pakistani courts, and the killing of innocent civilians continues in Kashmir. Even a conventional war could seriously destabilize the region and jeopardize our efforts to root out terrorism. President Bush will do well to replace military aid with incentives for real democratic reform.
Former US Ambassador to Belize
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