Letters

The impact of gender-based asylum

Regarding your April 24 article "Case tests US asylum for foreign women": Foreigners seeking asylum from their own governments should be required to seek asylum in the first country they reach after leaving home. If the Turkish woman fleeing an abusive husband in your example took a flight which landed in another country before reaching the US, we should send her back there to claim asylum.

The US is the country of choice for immigrants in every category, but there must be a limit to our generosity. The Census Bureau projects that our population of 284 million may double to over half a billion as soon as 2044. Our population will continue to surge upward toward a billion. Over 90 percent of that increase will be from immigrants since 1970 and their descendants.

If we don't want to leave a nation of half a billion and growing to our children, then we must reduce total immigration from all sources to no more than 200,000 per year, a number that will produce no net population growth from immigration.

Thomas P. McKenna Montpelier, Vt.

The article about gender-based asylum rules bringsout a core reality of the 21st century: Just as companies must compete in a global marketplace, societies and nations must also compete. By allowing women tofind safe haven here from honor killings, female circumcision, or spousal abuse, thosestates will have to change - or their people will go somewhere else. It'sa "free market" solution for human rights abuses.

Matthew Osborne Florence, Ala.

Fannie Mae defends American dream

"A new job for the Fed," your April 24 editorial regarding Fannie Mae, was correct in noting that as America's largest source of home mortgage funds, we've done our job well, helping families of modest means afford homes. But your discussion of our financial regulation would have been enriched by several facts:

* Fannie Mae's debt is not guaranteed by the federal government. The financial markets understand that, which is why our debt can trade as much as one percentage point in yield above US Treasury debt.

* While the Treasury Department has the authority, at its discretion, to buy $2.25 billion of our bonds, that authority has never been invoked. Indeed, Fannie Mae has never borrowed from the federal government.

* Fannie Mae is one of the highest-rated financial services companies in the nation. Standard & Poor's gives us a AA "risk to the government" rating, putting us among the nation's five strongest financial institutions.

* Unlike larger firms with a myriad of investments and risks, Fannie Mae invests solely in geographically diversified US residential mortgages - one of the safest and best collateralized assets in the world.

* Fannie Mae's risk profile is exceptionally low. Since 1983, as our book of business grew 13 times, our credit losses have plummeted to historic lows. In fact, commercial banks' loss rate on mortgages is 10 times that of Fannie Mae's.

You quote "opponents" saying we've done our job "too well ... now that middle-income Americans are arguably no longer 'underserved.' " But home-owning rates for minorities, wage earners, single mothers, and other groups are still below 50 percent, versus 67 percent for the nation and 74 percent for white families.

Fannie Mae wants to give all Americans a shot at the American dream. Embracing the strongest safety protections in our industry helps us attract the capital to make that possible.

Arne Christenson Washington Senior Vice President for Regulatory Policy, Fannie Mae

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Mail letters to Readers Write, and opinion articles to OpEd, at One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115; or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail oped@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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