Readers Write

By , William A. Conway, and Ray Yang

Don't Let Immigrants' Sponsors Jump Ship

I enjoyed the article "Amid Welfare Cuts, States Try to Aid Immigrants" (March 4) and must express sympathy and concern for the thousands of destitute and near-destitute legal but noncitizen United States residents who may no longer receive benefits. The losses will have financial and health consequences for these mostly elderly people.

But nothing I've read on this subject has dealt with a critical issue - how these residents arrive in the US. All applicants for legal residency must have a sponsor. The sponsor can be a US resident or citizen, a group such as a church or fraternal organization, or even the US government.

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The sponsor must agree to accept financial responsibility for the applicant if the applicant is unable to support him or herself. In the case of an individual sponsor, such as a family member, there is no time limit to this responsibility. Understanding of, and agreement to abide by, these stipulations is sworn to under oath when the application is signed.

I have sponsored four of my wife's family members. All are now US citizens and well employed (paying pretty hefty taxes), after having received not one penny of public assistance. From their arrival in the US until they were on their feet, my wife and I provided food, clothing, shelter, tuition, and health insurance - all on a modest income.

In many cases where immigrants are now destitute, their sponsors (often their children) have simply walked away. These relatives have benefited from a windfall provided by a complacent bureaucracy abrogating its responsibility to enforce existing laws.

The era of "free lunch" is nearly over, and deservedly so. Recourse, recovery, and sanctions (in the event of nonpayment) through the courts should become readily available options for both immigrants and federal, state, and local governments, as is done in child support matters. Should these avenues fail to provide adequate support, and provided that physical safety of the immigrants is not an issue, repatriation should be the last but nevertheless certain and mandatory option. The countries of origin should have the opportunity to demonstrate their concern, charity, and sense of responsibility toward their own citizens, just as we in this country do for ours.

Yes, bluntly stated, the lifeboat is filling up. The US can no longer be the "rich uncle" to those clever enough to offload themselves and their relatives into this country.

William H. Phillipson

Waco, Texas

Reform the courts a la health care

I read with interest "Washington Power Plays Leave Federal Judges Short-Handed" (Feb. 26).

As administrator of a small rural hospital, might I suggest a remedy from today's federal efforts in health-care management? The judges need to establish a class of primary attorneys acting as gatekeepers for litigants, reducing the numbers of both highly paid specialty lawyers and cases burdening the courts.

We could reduce the size and number of over-benched courthouses, moving most of the practice of law to an out-of-court setting. A gradual reduction in the amounts litigants and attorneys receive would aid in reducing the need for more judges in the excessively complex justice system. Why, in no time at all we would be back to both medicine and law under a tree on the village green. Ah, progress.

William A. Conway

McGehee, Ark.

In reading your report concerning the lack of federal judges due to a political feud between the GOP and the White House, I have finally found a culprit for our increasingly slow and frustrating legal system. Enough is enough. Political partisanship should be stopped when it hurts the whole country, as putting an inadequate number of judges on the bench certainly does. This is outrageous, and I really think it's time that Senator Hatch & Co. started doing their jobs and serving the American people instead of their reelections.

Ray Yang

Los Angeles

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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