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Immigrants should be learning English

Re: Communication gap: The law lags on language landscape, Oct. 26.

It appears that this country prefers to cater to people who choose not to learn the common English language. Imagine what we would have had if the same policy was applied to all the speakers of different languages during the mass influx of aliens in the earlier days of the United States. There would have been multiple tongues in all the agencies to help them on their way. We would have had another continent filled with multiple languages like the Old Country. But that wasn't the case. These people were quick to learn the common language and blend in.

Is there any effort on the part of governmental agencies to encourage immigrants to learn the common tongue or are we doomed to kowtowing to their needs? Having command of the common language should be a primary requirement to gaining residence. Not doing so threatens our ability to communicate, which already is very much in jeopardy.

Tom S. Brown, Largo

Shift the responsibility

In your Oct. 26 article The law lags on language landscape, the crux of the issue seems to be that there needs to be more Spanish-speaking law-enforcement officers in order to cope with the problems encountered by non-English-speaking Spanish immigrants. The responsibility seems to be squarely placed on law-enforcement for training programs and the costs associated with them. What responsibility is given to the legal and/or illegal immigrants to learn essential English before or after accepting the generosity of the "good ol' USA"?

Where is the Spanish-speaking community's leadership? Nonexistent or noncaring? Can't they recognize the plight of these workers and band together to teach survival English to all who want to learn? And what about those who choose not to learn? I only hope that they would be few and far between.

David Miles, St. Petersburg

Don't help illegals

Re: The law lags on language landscape.

The article talks about how we need more Spanish-speaking police officers. We certainly agree with Brenda Canino-Fumero, the Tampa police Hispanic liaison officer, about her services being spread thin and needing to be paid more. However, we and most taxpaying Americans (if you can trust the opinion polls) prefer not to pay for services that help illegal immigration.

People who are in our country illegally need to be deported. As for people who are legal immigrants, they need to learn English just as past immigrants did.

Carlton and Tiffany Ford, Largo

To better aid farm workers

Re: It didn't start with Wal-Mart, Oct. 26.

I am writing to comment on Bill Maxwell's column regarding recent raids by immigration officials on Wal-Mart stores and the resulting arrests of allegedly illegal workers. The illogic of Maxwell's comments regarding the plight of farm workers is astounding. He advocates a wholesale roundup of illegal workers in Florida fields and groves, betting that the numbers of arrests would be "in the thousands." Arrest and deportation, the hallmarks of our decades-old, ineffective and incoherent immigration policy, have never solved immigration problems. Yet Maxwell would call down the wrath of the U.S. government to punish people who have risked life and limb in order to seek a better life through hard work.

Maxwell could more constructively employ his journalistic skills in advocating a realistic and humane solution to the problem. Such a solution is contained in the AgJobs bill, the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act of 2003. Introduced by Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and Howard Berman D-Calif., it offers solutions for the agricultural labor crisis while protecting homeland security and advancing the issue of immigration reform in the national interest. It is supported by growers, farm worker advocates, Hispanic and immigration issue groups, all seeking to provide a more stable, secure, safe and legal American agricultural work force and food supply.

Carl B. Loop Jr., president, Florida Farm

Bureau Federation, Gainesville

Death penalty boondoggle

Re: In death class, Oct. 26.

This article should be required reading for every member of the Legislature. Capital punishment is the worst possible government boondoggle. The death penalty results in the needless expenditure of millions of dollars in order to execute our own citizens, even if some of them are innocent of any crime. The Legislature is struggling with how to fund the court system under revision seven to Article V of the Florida Consitution. Soon the state of Florida will be responsible for all of the local costs of the death penalty that were being paid by the counties.

How about doing the taxpayers and needy citizens of Florida a favor by freeing up more than $50-million in annual expenses now used to fund the death industry? Are our representatives actually capable of making such a common-sense decision?

Adam Tebrugge, Sarasota

A powerful reminder

Re: Anti-Semitism's global comeback, Oct. 26.

Philip Gailey has written a timely and sobering comment on the scourge of anti-Semitism, which is being fomented throughout the world. Unlike others in the media who attempt to trivialize this phenomenon as the rantings of a "fringe element," Gailey's powerful article should remind us that the same rationalizations were popular among those who dismissed the Nazis of the 1920s as a "fringe group" who could have no impact on the cultured peoples of Europe.

It is truly dismaying that _ with the honorable exceptions of our own president, and the prime minister of Italy _ world leaders have been ominously silent in responding to the daily manifestations of anti-Semitism, and the United Nations has been conspicuous by its absence in any effort to address it.

We need more voices who will speak up with the perceptiveness and courage of Philip Gailey.

Bruce Epstein, Barry Augenbraun,

co-chairs, Jewish Community Relations

Council of the Pinellas Jewish

Federation, Largo

A torch of understanding

Re: Anti-Semitism's global comeback, Oct. 26.

We applaud Philip Gailey's great column in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times regarding the re-emergence of worldwide anti-Semitism. What the world needs now is an antidote to the poison of hatred _ among nations, peoples and religions. In the darkness of ignorance and prejudice, Gailey lights a torch of understanding. Keep up the good work!

Norman and Terry Howard, Clearwater

Vote for a park

We think it is time for the city of St. Petersburg to say goodbye to Albert Whitted Airport.

The arguments made pro and con can confuse the subject by detailing how the economics will swing in the short-term with the airport decision. We suggest the best way to decide the subject is to assume that nothing at all existed on this site and then evaluate which alternative is in the best long-term interests of the city and its taxpayers.

We think it is safe to say that establishing an airport in that space would not even make the top 100 best uses for the site. The top-rated airport in the country (Tampa International) is less than 30 minutes away and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International even closer. Anyone suggesting that what downtown St. Petersburg needs most is a small, heavily subsidized airport, that adversely impacts it neighbors, would be laughed out of the room.

We urge the voters to decide in favor of the proposal to build a park in place of Albert Whitted as this would settle the airport question. The long-term planning for use of the site can then be conducted in a much more positive atmosphere without the defensive arguments that attack doing anything other than maintaining the status quo.

Ed and Anna Fagan, St. Petersburg

Keep the airport

As a resident living in downtown St. Petersburg since 1959, I agree with those who support keeping Albert Whitted Airport as an important transportation facility.

With business flights, pleasure flights, Bayfront helicopters and civil aircraft based at the airport, we are very fortunate to be in such a prominent location necessary for commerce, safety and emergency services.

Our waterfront already has several beautiful parks. The airport is much more beneficial for our nearby residents and tourists than another park.

Bill Dunihue, St. Petersburg

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