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Letters to the Editor (7/30)

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Posted: Saturday, July 31, 2010 3:30 pm

Put things in perspective

Dear Editor:

Regarding "Arizona's angst heightened by a questionable presidency," by Linda Turley-Hansen (AFN, June 4).It is very unfortunate that hysteria has replaced reasoned debate on the subject of illegal immigration. Is Armageddon coming, as Turley-Hansen and others suggest? I don't think so. I believe that this is a political game being played by politicians like Russell Pierce, J.D Hayworth, Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas, who have little else of substance to offer Arizona voters. And the press is all too happy to play along because controversy is good for business. This sort of commentary is not productive.

When people are frustrated with the economy, unemployment and an eroding standard of living, they naturally look for scapegoats. Opportunistic politicians are all too eager to fan the flames of discontent, even if it is at the expense of a group - be it ethnic or political. People then see their fears and hatreds bolstered and given legitimacy by the politicos, and vise versa, and what we have is self-propagating monster. If it goes far enough, we have what happened in Europe in the early 1900s. And what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s. I'm not saying things will reach that point, but let's not let our emotions, fears and hatreds put incompetent people into elected office. Or install people with hidden agenda who are merely riding the illegal immigration wave. And please tone down the "treason" rhetoric, especially if you are going to apply it to just the current president.

I think we need to be realistic and put things in perspective. Sure there are more things we can do to control our boarders. But it becomes exponentially more expensive to reach "airtight," if "airtight" is achievable at all. Just as with illegal drug interdiction, even "significant" reductions are not achievable without grossly disproportionate expenditures. Are we prepared to pay? And would the cost outweigh the benefit at some point? Maybe it already is. But to hear it from the most rabid anti-illegal immigration people, the promise is that it can be achieved and that cost is no object when it comes to "national security." I remain skeptical.

Will SB1070 control drug trafficking and human smuggling? I suspect not, since these "operators" come and go, and are not interested in establishing residence here. Nor do I think they have anything to fear from this law since the offenses they are already committing have more severe penalties and an illegal immigration bust would. Therefore there is no additional opportunity with this law for controlling them.

Then there's the question of whether it is even in our interest to round up and deport every - or even most - of the illegals that are already established here. What would that do to the Arizona economy that relies heavily on construction, agriculture and hospitality-based businesses, which have always relied on cheap labor? Are we prepared to see local businesses spend money in our state go under because they can no longer compete?

Why is it such a big issue now? Would we even be having this discussion if the economy was booming? My understanding is that the population of illegal immigrants in this state is actually down from the peak in the mid-2000s, pretty much tracking our economic health. If so, perhaps the problem is somewhat self-correcting. Free markets and all that...

Why are those so concerned with the economic consequences of illegal immigration, real or perceived, not up in arms over the very real threat to our standard of living posed by the rise of the Chinese and Indian economies? It seems that cutting education is exactly the wrong thing to do if we want to maintain our global competitiveness. Yet what do we do? And the hidden cost of continued use of fossil fuels and global warming? These are arguably much more critical to our future economic well being.

Randal J. Jacoby

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