Letters to the Editor

Readers comment on an open-border policy and the revitalization of a Rhode Island high school.

Checking out an open-border policy

In their June 7 Opinion piece, "Why restrict immigration at all?" Becky Akers and Donald Boudreaux present a viable constitutional argument against government intervention and make straightforward and logical claims about the economics of immigration.

Remembering poet Walt Whitman's words that the United States is a "nation of many nations," how can we Americans not welcome all those who are willing to work and contribute to their communities?

We seem to have forgotten that Franklin Roosevelt once told us to "Remember, remember always that all of us ... are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."

My early ancestor in America, born in 1745, was the grandson of French Huguenots, and he fought in the Revolution. My later Irish and German forebears came in time to soldier in the Civil War.

I say again, "How can we not welcome all who are willing to work and contribute to their communities?"

David K. McClurkin
Beachwood, Ohio

On a philosophical level, I agree with the viewpoints of Becky Akers and Donald Boudreaux regarding immigration (although there is still the issue of public health to contend with, which the US government seems to have mystifyingly all but abandoned in modern times).

The problem with the writers' position, however, is that it does not work in an age of huge taxpayer-funded entitlements and benefits.

If people are coming here to work hard to better themselves and their families, I'm all for it, with few or no restrictions.

However, if I am going to be required to fund government handouts to everyone and anyone and their families, then you bet that I want strict controls on who can come into the US.

I don't want to blame the immigrants. With the availability of free medical care, free education, subsidized housing, welfare, food stamps, maybe soon even Social Security benefits, who wouldn't want to come to the US?

Get rid of the taxpayer-funded government entitlements; then we can talk about open borders.

Neil Weicher
Stamford, Conn.

Becky Akers and Donald Boudreaux's Opinion piece on immigration is deeply flawed.

Here are the biggest problems with it: 1. While the US Constitution may not specifically mention immigration authority with regard to federal powers, surely the authors will not argue that border issues are one of the primary responsibilities of the federal government of the United States.

Controlling who enters the country is a basic element of how nation states function.

I challenge the writers to show an example of a nation that has a true open-border policy (and certainly not Mexico, for example).

2. The Opinion piece glosses over security, while vaguely referencing "genuine threats."

Securing the borders of the US is one of the few things that national security experts agree on when asked what can be done to prevent terrorism.

3. American public opinion over­whelmingly rejects an "open border" approach. This is one of the few things that almost every poll on immigration indicates; the people in the US want secure borders.

John Wojtowicz
West Chester, Pa.

Regarding Becky Akers and Donald Boudreaux's Opinion piece on immigration: I was interested to see the 18th-century theories of Adam Smith described as if they were fact. The authors say, "Greater specialization leads to greater production and greater prosperity." I recently read from the 1899 testimony to a Congressional committee by a shoemaker describing the effects of the specialization of labor. He reported how demoralizing it was to work all day doing one tiny thing, unable to converse over the noisy machinery. He also described the drive to produce more and more, and how wages had gone from a living wage to one that wasn't, even as the shoemakers worked far longer hours. He lamented that they no longer had time to think about anything, or to appreciate art, or to engage in civil society.

It's surprising that, even as the planet is choking on the glut of material goods produced and thrown away, people can still say this model – with increased profits and lower costs for consumer goods as the main measure of prosperity – is valid.

Wendy Mulhern
Seattle

Re-creating a high school's preeminent past

The May 31 article, "A struggling school finds reason for hope," about Hope High School in Providence, R.I., gave heartening insight on how community partnerships can help effect a dramatic turnaround. I would like to note, however, that when this school's new academic goals and strong cross-curricular development are realized, the partnerships will have re-created part of the past rather than generated something entirely new.

Hope High School once offered a wide variety of subjects tailored to various interests and learning levels. Never lacking for bright, high achievers, Hope's comprehensive college preparatory program sent its students on to some of the best colleges in the nation.

From a distance of 3,000 miles and a time span exceeding half a century (I graduated from Hope in 1955), I was dismayed to read that this once high-achieving school had fallen into decades of bad performance.

On-stage training from Hope's music and drama departments stayed with me through many adult years as a public speaker and as a singer with my local community chorus. When opportunities for foreign travel arose nearly four decades after the fact, I was amazed at how much high school French and German I'd retained. And Hope's English and language arts department definitely enhanced my future career as an author, journalist, and editor.

Providence itself is now known as the "Renaissance City." With vision, insight, and proper planning, the decaying municipality I left many years ago has become a beautiful, user-friendly city that people love to visit. How wonderful that community partnerships similar to those that helped revitalize the city are now revitalizing its schools.

Olivia Taylor-Young
Cave Junction, Ore.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to Readers Write and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317.

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