Letters to the Editor

Readers write about pressuring the Mexican government, the Minnesota bridge collapse, and affirmative action policies.

US should pressure corrupt Mexican political system

The August 3 article, "In Central America, child migrants now face perils alone," featured superb reporting. As the author observes, Mexico's treatment of these poor Central American children is correctly characterized as "ambivalent." Their exploitation is informally tolerated by Mexican citizens for economic reasons. Mexico's official policy is just as crass. It requires that illegal Guatemalans be deported without so much as the right of an appeal. These tragic facts starkly demonstrate that Mexico is without a modicum of standing to instruct the US on the morality of immigration policy.

Mexico, for example, is not poor; it is corrupt. Why not pressure that government for necessary political and social changes?

Scott Smith
Corpus Christi, Texas

Politicians focus on the wrong issues

In response to the August 2 article, "Bridge collapse spotlights America's deferred maintenance," I was a little surprised not to see any mention of the basic reason for infrastructure failure in our country: the war in Iraq. I could have just have said it was for lack of funds, but to me our misdirection in Iraq is the real culprit, not that the Minnesota bridge collapse was specifically a result of the war.

In my area, there is a bridge that has been in need of repair and rebuilding for years – but there have not been any funds at the state or federal level to do what needs to be done, despite legislation in varying forms that has mandated it. Meanwhile we have spent nearly $700 billion on defense last year, and nearly $600 billion in Iraq since the war began.

David Neal
Kitty Hawk, N.C.

We need expressions of greater integrity on the part of our elected officials. Problems such as the Minnesota bridge collapse and last month's airline accident in the heart of São Paulo, Brazil, need not have happened had politicians stood up and said what's right instead of the adage, "You never win an election spending tax dollars on maintenance."

The trucking lobby has been extremely successful in getting Congress to allow heavier trucks on our highways. A citizen group in São Paulo was successful last year in proving the city's two runways had to be lengthened, but then a court selfishly turned down the decision, saying closing a runway for construction would seriously affect business. That decision, as we know, resulted in the fatalities of close to 200 people.

When we have more politicians saying what's right and not what's expedient, accidents like Minneapolis and São Paulo will be avoided.

William Deane
New York

Failure of affirmative action

In the August 6 article "Confronting a new era of diversity," the author leaves the distinct impression that affirmative action prior to the recent Supreme Court decision was an overwhelming success. But that was hardly the case.

Disproportionate numbers of African-American and Hispanic students who were granted admission under that policy failed to graduate. Investigators have identified a combination of factors that were responsible, including inadequate preparation and insufficient mentoring. The only thing that matters is the cost to these enrollees and their families in terms of dashed hopes.

Rather than persist in the comforting delusion that the affirmative action era was a golden era for diversity, Mark Emmert and the presidents of other universities need to rethink their policies.

Walt Gardner
Los Angeles

US should pressure improvements in Mexican government

The August 3 article, "In Central America, child migrants now face perils alone," is a tragic story. Some will blame Guatemala and Mexico for their inability to care efficiently for their people, which is a valid point. But the US must share some blame for our border chaos and lawlessness.

Guatemala has half the per capita GDP of Mexico, which itself has about a quarter of ours. Our successful system shines like a beacon down through Mexico into Central America. It is a powerful attractant. Guatemala and Mexico apparently have defaulted to governments that are too corrupt or inept for their people to thrive. America has defaulted on the enforcement of its borders, thus raising false hope to others that Uncle Sam can cure their malady.

The US is like a well-meaning enabler of a drug addict. Better that we prescribe the tough love that is needed. In this case that means no illegal entry here plus using our influence to cajole improved democracy and capitalism there. If we provide funds to these neighbors, we must insist on sound legal and economic practices in return. Meanwhile, we need to manage America in accord with our own laws. In the long run, it's the effective, moral solution.

Mark Sussman
Bellevue, Wash.

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, or e-mail OpEd.

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