High barriers to legal status
I notice that letters to the editor concerning immigration often express frustration with the fact that current "illegal immigrants" and "undocumented aliens" have broken U.S. law. Some writers indicate that they would be happy to welcome such persons if only they had entered the country legally as immigrants in the past have done. Unfortunately, these are not the days of Ellis Island.
Current U.S. immigration policy has four goals:
• Reunite families by admitting immigrants who have family members living in the United States;
• Admit workers with needed skills;
• Protect persons from political, racial or religious persecution; and
• Provide diversity by admitting persons from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
Persons who enter the United States under such policy are granted a "green card," after having negotiated a rigorous application procedure usually requiring the services of a lawyer. The current cost of a green card is projected to rise to $985 this fall. Foreign persons entering this country on a temporary basis as students or temporary workers must have been admitted to an institution of learning or have a specific job waiting for them. Simply put, it is next to impossible for a poorly educated person of limited skills from any country to enter the United States legally unless there is a U.S. sponsorship of some type.
I suggest that persons who cross deserts and climb high fences to realize "the American dream" are no less idealistic than persons who crossed oceans in steerage and manipulated Ellis Island.
Donald R. Gillette, Tampa
California's golden glow extinguished David Brooks column, Sept. 29
The missing mainstream
As a former resident of California, I was moved by David Brooks' lamentation concerning the descent of California.
Because the fringe groups drive elections in the state, there is no foreseeable return to the mainstream policies based on shared values that made California an affluent state that attracted people from all over the country. While Brooks might well have included more conservative governors such as Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson in his catalog of governors who did well by California and its people, he is absolutely correct in highlighting the focus on fringe issues.
Once Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced the aptly named Gray Davis, the fringe learned quickly that Schwarzenegger could easily be rolled, with the result that what had been modest outmigration became a flood, as policies veered to the very far left.
There was a time when California was the ultimate "can-do" state. While the creation of the California Aqueduct to ensure that Southern California had a steady supply of water was not without a dark side, it is inconceivable that the bloated state government of today would even attempt such an enormous engineering project. Instead, parts of the economically and agriculturally critical Central Valley are starved for water because the environmental community has achieved primacy in the state, a primacy that leaves no room to consider any ideas but those advanced by radical left fringe groups.
Jeffrey Meyer, Clearwater
Support, not clothes, counts
I am a retired teacher of 27 years for the Pinellas County School District, and part of my career was a five-year gig at Azalea Elementary School in St. Petersburg where student school uniforms are mandatory. I have witnessed student academic performance and displayed behaviors from both sides.
I don't believe students' apparel influences their performance one way or the other. Caring, nurturing and supportive parents are paramount for a child's educational success, along with competent and understanding educators.
When we enter this world, we are not wearing any clothes, and when we leave, we couldn't care less what we have on our backs. Clothes do not make a fool, nor an academic overachiever.
Mike McGinnis, Clearwater
Work to end bullying
The account of an irate father who boarded a school bus to confront students who were abusing his disabled daughter (Father apologizes for school bus showdown, Sept. 21) shows that the affair was mishandled.
The main focus of the story was about the "over-the-top" emotional reaction of the girl's father. I feel a more appropriate handling of the incident would have been to make a strong teaching moment with all parties present brought together to discuss the seriousness of the situation and hopefully learn how future incidents could be avoided. For too long, bullying has been a major problem in our schools.
I was fortunate to have been one of four girls raised by a strong, loving, protective father who taught us to have empathy for friends who were "different" or disabled. I am sure more such guidance is necessary for our young people if this serious problem of bullying is ever to be solved.
E. Schultz, Belleair
Back to the future
I see Barack Obama is backing Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington on Oct. 30. Stewart says, "The rally is for people who think the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones heard."
That sounds like what Richard Nixon spoke of in his speech on Nov. 3, 1969, when he said, "And so tonight — to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans — I ask for your support." Almost 41 years to the day and Stewart, with the blessing of Obama, wants to take us back to the future.
James Di Piazza, Seffner