Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Congress doing more to fight Big Tobacco, airport security checkpoints, holes in immigration enforcement, and race relations in America.

Congress should tax big tobacco for sake of children

In response to the July 9 column, "The poor need help, not hidden taxes," Patrick Fleenor of the Tax Foundation criticizes efforts to expand the successful and popular State Children's Health Insurance Program by increasing the existing federal tobacco tax. The article suggests that the tax increase will have a significant impact on the poor, who are more likely to smoke. In fact it would do a lot of good.

First, the increased cost would help stem the use of deadly tobacco products that kill more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. Second, low-income, working families would stand to benefit because health insurance for their children would then be within their grasp.

The real losers would be the tobacco companies, which have a vested interest in keeping people addicted. Thankfully, Senators Gordon Smith and Olympia Snowe had the courage to stand up to the powerful tobacco lobby with a proposal to help ensure children do not go without medical care because they lack access to coverage.

Bruce Lesley
Alexandria, Va.
President, First Focus

American imam and airport security

I could relate to the July 11 article, "Visit gone awry: Detention roils a US-German family," where Majed Shehadeh was detained. I am one of the few young imams in the US, raised here since I was 5 although I was born in London. I also serve as the human rights commissioner for the city of San Jose, Calif.

Despite being a US citizen, I was stopped and questioned 6 out of 6 times in one year as I reentered the US at the San Francisco airport. The questions are the same each time. This is sad, considering I have been treated better in other countries. Even on a return from a trip paid for by the State Department, it was the same routine.

Like most people who have been treated in a similar fashion, I filed a complaint. I commend the Department of Homeland Security for their timely responses, but they were generic, and of no benefit, after their internal inquiry into the matter.

Coming home is always a blessing. One finds solace in it after a tiring journey. However, I am always worried because I do not know what will happen the next time I fly back into my own country.

Tahir Anwar
San Jose, Calif.

Local police and illegal immigrants

Regarding the July 17 article, "More communities use local police to enforce US immigration law," I seem unable to grasp that there are people who think it appropriate for local police to enforce immigration laws. If the US government has a hard time with this difficult problem, how can one expect an understaffed, not-very-well-paid, and sometimes poorly trained police force to divide the sheep from the goats?

Anytime an authority figure, particularly a local one with a gun, is empowered to such a degree as has been granted those in Prince William County in Virginia, it seems anyone with an "ethnic face" will have something to fear. Anyone with dark skin had better beware. The policeman or policewoman will be looking for a "type" that fits the description of dark skin, swarthy build, dark hair, and brown eyes.

Beth Mitchell
Nashville, Tenn.

All races have been mistreated

In response to the July 9 opinion article, "Feeling way too white," Ms. Hauser went exploring into "the hood" near her home, thinking it would make her feel all white-liberally virtuous, and instead she wound up feeling distinctly unwelcome. What a surprise! I think the author should stop trying to "atone for the legacy of slavery."

Every race has been slaves, and every race has owned slaves. All races have been mistreated sometime, somewhere, by someone who did not look like them. It's part of human nature.

Wayne Engle
Madison, Ind.

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.

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