The solutions to immigration reform and securing the border that Abel Carreno proposed in his June 9 guest column on the Perspective page were offensive and dehumanizing.
The great majority of Mexican and Central American immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally are hard workers who do jobs in agriculture, food processing, minimum-wage elder care and child care, etc. These are jobs that hardly any Americans are willing to do.
Like our immigrant ancestors, they want to be able to support their families in a safe and democratic environment, and to enable their children to get a good education so that they can contribute to society.
Thus introducing hate language suggesting electrified fences, poisoned moats, a wall similar to the Berlin Wall is opposed to the American ideals inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Thankfully, I have never before encountered hate language in Walla Walla in discussions of how to resolve the immigration problem, and hope I will not in the future.
I do agree with Abel that employer use of e-verification to be sure that job applicants are citizens or have work permits is a major part of the solution. But only on the condition that enough work permits are issued to meet the demand. In the past not nearly enough work permits have been issued, which is why the problem of illegal immigration arose in the first place.
Employers have welcomed undocumented workers because that is the only way they could get the labor they needed. Some employers actually recruited undocumented workers in Mexico. If workers do not have legal papers, they are in no position to protest unsafe working conditions or inadequate salaries.
Work permits should provide an eventual path to citizenship.
Abel and I have discussed immigration reform and securing the border in previous conversations. He never mentioned the cruel and dehumanizing solutions he proposed in his column.
I contacted Abel to find out why he was using hate language now. He told me he was being ironic, just trying to spark discussion about immigration reform. I told him that his article appeared to advocate an attitude of hate toward immigrants, even if that was not his intention.
I do not know who belongs to the Independent Latino Council of Walla Walla of which Abel says he is the director. I have a number of friends in organizations that seek a fair Immigration Reform Bill. None of them belong to the Independent Latino Council.