In reading this week’s edition of the Press-Banner, I found myself reflecting on two very different articles. I first read the cover story of how a young Chinese boy was rescued from the streets of post-World War II China, brought to the U.S. and helped to become a citizen; and then, after earning a medical degree and serving in the U.S. Air Force, had a productive career as a physician and finally settled in our community to be close to his family (“From beggar to doctor,” Page 9, July 13). What an extraordinary act of generosity on the behalf of Marine Sgt. Art McCartney to recognize the potential in this young child and take the time and trouble to help him, ultimately benefiting both Dr. Liu and our society.
Then I read Michael Duffy’s letter to the editor bemoaning the need to educate young children of illegal immigrants who have the audacity to try to better their lives at the expense ofCaliforniataxpayers (“Immigration bill affects schools,” Page 6, July 13). The contrast couldn’t have been more striking. I wondered how much those illegal immigrants contribute toCalifornia’s economy: Don’t they pay sales taxes on things they buy inCalifornia? They pay income taxes, unemployment insurance and Social Security taxes, yet will never file a tax return or claim any benefits. Without their labor, California’s farm economy would suffer greatly and we would all pay much more for our produce (just ask the Alabama farmers trying to cope with labor shortages by planting fewer acres after tough immigration laws were passed there last year). Clearly, our system is broken when our economy is so dependent on workers forced to enter our country illegally at great personal danger.
When we get caught up in anger because of perceived injustices to American taxpayers and don’t look at all aspects of the situation, we lose perspective because of our narrow focus. Migrant workers are a valuable and important part ofCalifornia’s economy, and our legislators know that. I expect there were plenty of farmers lobbying forCalifornia’s immigration bill right alongside those immigrants’ rights groups. Instead of seeing the situation in terms of illegals versus Americans, let’s spend our energy creating a reasonable system for migrant laborers to enter theU.S.so they can work here legally. Then we can accept migrant workers as a valuable part of our society and their children as human beings with great potential to contribute to our community, just like Dr. Liu.
Pam Newbury, BonnyDoon