Don't push 'illegal' aliens deeper into shadows

Regarding your April 20 editorial "Illegal Aliens and Local Police": Your endorsement of the enlistment of municipal and state authorities in immigration enforcement is unwise. In spite of what the law says, official US immigration policy has long welcomed the foreign working poor to come and do the heavy lifting in the American economy, and so we have 10 million who are here "illegally." (That is almost 1 in 25 of all people in the US, and probably 1 in 15 of all able-bodied workers.)

US immigration law already creates a form of apartheid between those workers who enjoy protection of the law and those who are "illegal." Your suggestion to enlist local law enforcement will do nothing more than make life even more miserable and restricted for 1 in 15 American workers here who are already living in the shadows. What is needed is a generous way for long-term residents to legalize.
John M. Gallagher
Los Angeles
The writer is a former Immigration and Naturalization Service attorney.

Detainees: Are they POWs or criminals?

Regarding your April 20 article "At court: terror-war detentions": The US detention of terrorists in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere presents several possibilities for legal oversight. Depending on the interpretation of the treaty regarding the base, those held are under American or Cuban jurisdiction. If they are regarded as civilian criminal detainees, then either Cuban or American courts are responsible for conditions of detention and their rights. I think the US would prefer US law to be applicable.

Since the administration refers to the situation as war, then they are prisoners of war and must be covered by international agreements on such prisoners. The other possibility is that they could be regarded as international criminals, accused of committing crimes against humanity, and could be tried by a court similar to that hearing cases from the former Yugoslavia.

At present the Bush administration holds itself above the law, any law. It's time to decide, probably after international consultation, under which judicial framework they are being detained. There will undoubtedly be similar occurrences in the future; some may even involve Americans held by other countries.
Robert Tucker
Owen Sound, Ontario

Reform dairy-industry price supports

Your April 12 article "We all scream over the price of ice cream" evoked my sympathy for the dairy industry, affiliated businesses, and consumers. The treatment of the issue, however, would have benefited from information regarding the substantial public assistance granted to the dairy industry. Government price supports dilute the accuracy of statements that "the issue all comes down to supply and demand" and "It's Econ 101."

Public subsidies apply to all dairies and vary according to market conditions and production. Nevertheless, smaller dairies remain vulnerable and still succumb to lower prices, unlike larger operations that benefit from economies of scale.

The article mentions the recent decline in the number of dairy cows in the nation, but fails to mention the growing number of large dairies being established in places such as the San Joaquin Valley in California. By diminishing the risks of overproduction and providing price supports, public subsidies diminish the role of free-market forces in determining the anticipated profitability of these new ventures. I do agree that price relief is warranted, but would prefer a reformed system, one which helps small producers and does not reinforce the ongoing cycle of feast and famine in the dairy industry.
William Preston
San Luis Obispo, Calif.

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