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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,Contrary to current “expert” opinion, Latino immigrants are not to blame for our immigration “crisis.” Instead, look to flaws in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1991, which provided for the free movement within North America of capital and goods but not labor, while simultaneously opening Mexico for massive imports of heavily subsidized U.S. food grains, thereby idling and displacing millions of Mexican peasants. The resulting unemployment problem was fixed by establishing vast low-wage assembly plants (maquiladoras) along the U.S.-Mexico border. This only worked until even cheaper Chinese products started flooding the U.S. market in the late ’90s. What are poor Mexicans to do; what would we do? With nothing but poverty to go home to and being already at the U.S. border, of course they choose the land of opportunity.If we are really interested in constructive solutions to the immigration problem, here are some steps that each one of us can take:1. When shopping, don’t just look for the lowest price, but see if the product is made in Mexico or Central America. If so, buy it even if it costs more.2. Write your representatives and urge them to cancel the exorbitant subsidies to U.S. producers of corn, soybeans and sorghum. Big U.S. agribusiness will survive just fine without these trade-distorting giveaways.3. Urge Washington to establish U.S. recruitment and education centers in key cities inside Mexico and Central America in partnership with the private sector to recruit qualified workers to work in the U.S. based on documented needs of U.S. employers. Prior to receiving entry and work permits, eligible workers would pass a test for minimum proficiency in English and a basic knowledge of U.S. laws and culture. Of course, the end of the rainbow would have to be the opportunity of U.S. citizenship. If the program is widely publicized and well staffed (what an opportunity for the Peace Corps and Americorps volunteers), it would reduce the chaos and pressure of illegal immigration at our borders, while improving the U.S. image in Latin America.Gerry VanderBeekGlenwood Springs

Dear Editor,The members of Congress have voted themselves a $3,000 raise, while they have refused to raise the minimum wage by 40 percent, bringing it up to $7.21 from $5.15 an hour. Shame, shame, shame! This from individuals who have lifetime pensions and lifetime health care not only for themselves, but also for their spouses. This Congress has turned a blind eye to the administration’s numerous assaults on the Constitution and a refusal to listen to the people’s plea to bring the troops home from a war without end. They seem not to be interested in representing the needs of the people, but only to raising money to make it possible to keep their “jobs.” Jane Baker VeitCarbondale


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