Letters to the Editor. US Immigration reform

David L. Kirp implies that business interests were behind the Council of Economic Advisers' criticism of immigration reform efforts currently being considered in Congress [``Administration morality and free-market immigration,'' Feb. 6]. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Business wants immigration reform. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), representing more than 13,000 employers of all sizes and from a variety of industrial sectors, has endorsed immigration reform since 1982. This year, the NAM has been joined in its effort to lobby for immigration reform by the Business Roundtable, an organization representing the Fortune 500 companies; the National Federation of Independent Business, representing more than 500,000 small businesses; the US Chamber of Commerce; and the Associated Builders and Contractors.

All are urging Congress to write a bill that can effectively be enforced -- and have endorsed the Senate version of the immigration bill. Sen. Alan Simpson's bill is tough. It calls for penalties of up to $10,000 per illegal alien for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, and charges business with the responsibility of checking the identification of all employees to determine their legitimate work eligibility. Business supports the bill; there is no running away from a responsibility that should be shared by all in this country.

Business does have problems with the House bill. A key concern is a provision that would make it illegal for employers to prefer a US citizen over a legal ``alien'' for a job. It would create an entirely new civil rights enforcement bureaucracy to ensure that noncitizens have the same right to work as citizens. Jerry Jasinowski Executive Vice-President Washington Nat. Assoc. of Manufacturers

``Bringing order to immigration'' [Jan. 28] fails to consider many effects stricter anti-immigration laws would bring.

The majority of illegal aliens come from Mexico. Their average pay is approximately two-thirds of the minimum wage, which is quite a lot of money to them. If farmers were penalized even more for hiring them and forced to hire legal residents at minimum wage or greater, a huge number of farms would be forced to close down.

Southern states, where most illegal aliens reside, have the worst record of delinquent farm loans. If these states were hit with stronger anti-immigration laws, their agricultural economy would decline even more.

The argument that illegal aliens take jobs away from Americans is lame. Most aliens do low-skilled, almost degrading work that no American would even think of accepting. Matthew Millward Toronto

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