Letters to the Editor

Immigration: Reality vs. Myth

The Nov. 11 opinion-page article, "Debating Immigration Myths," unfortunately ignores a key fact about US immigration policy, namely that America already possesses a highly regulated and limited legal immigration system. With few exceptions, only close family members (spouse, child, sibling, or parent), those sponsored by employers, or individuals accepted on humanitarian grounds are lawfully admitted to this nation. Today, legal immigrants account for 7.5 percent of the total US population - about half the proportion at other times in our nation's history.

Like any policy, immigration carries some costs. But admitting legal immigrants seeking new opportunities yields benefits that far outweigh those costs and has helped make America an economically vibrant and culturally rich nation. By balancing the needs of families and employers, and by extending a safe haven to those fleeing persecution, our immigration policy serves its historic purpose. Freedom and opportunity is the cornerstone of American society, and immigrants continue to embody that freedom

Sen. Spencer Abraham


Republican, Michigan

Drugs and the CIA: Who's at fault?

Regarding the Nov. 19 editorial, "Spymaster Meets the People": The supermarket where I usually trade has added a colorful new counter just inside the entrance. It is for the purpose of selling tobacco products.

It never occurred to me that I would have to take up the smoking habit because those products are there for sale. I wonder if the residents of Los Angeles who are complaining that the CIA may have been selling drugs in their community thought about just not buying drugs.

Joyce Jones Gorman

Deland, Fla.

Discrimination is discrimination

I wish to commend the author of the well-written Nov. 18 article, "Case Tests Limits of Quotas." However, I have one reservation: Why is discrimination against whites always referred to as "reverse discrimination"? Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of the color of the person being discriminated against. The constant use of the term "reverse discrimination" is itself a subtle form of racism because it implies that discrimination against whites is somehow less of an evil than discrimination against other races.

Robert K. W. Gideon

Fairfax, Va.

Working together in the Congo

Regarding the Nov. 26 opinion-page article, "Why I was Banned from a Congo Rain Forest": The World Bank recognizes that Congo Basin countries face a critical problem in forest degradation and deforestation, a problem exacerbated by commercial logging, particularly as logging roads open up access for farming and hunting in previously inaccessible areas. But contrary to the article, the bank certainly makes no assumptions that timber companies will operate in a sustainable and responsible way, particularly without improvements in the regulatory regime controlling their actions.

The bank is developing a strategy to help Congo Basin countries develop the capacity to protect their forests and other key natural resources. To create a sustainable solution, the strategy includes better regulation of commercial forestry activities by improving forestry taxation, pricing and concession allocation systems, and the like. But the strategy also requires that these improvements be linked to countries' commitments to sustainable land use that include protection of biodiversity and safeguarding forest dwellers' resource interests.

In working toward these goals, the bank will work in partnership with all stakeholders concerned with the forests and will support the initiatives of the IUCN and the Conference on the Ecosystems of Rainforests in Central Africa. We hope the author will work with us, local governments, and local NGOs to ensure a more secure future for the Congo Basin's forests and people.

Andrew Steer



World Bank Environment Department

Letters must include your address. All are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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