The Path Does Not Run Smooth…
“A Path for Immigrants?” [Feb. 25] rightly states that the proposed immigration bill is paved with “broken glass.” As advocates for migrant farmworkers, my colleagues and I realize that only a percentage of the estimated 11 million undocumented people here will benefit from the reform package and become citizens. The bill is fraught with difficult requirements: the lengthy process from declaration to green card to citizenship can take up to ten years, and the cost—from the initial fine to back taxes to application fees—is very high. Unless these issues are addressed, there will still be millions ripe for INS detention, deportation and exploitation.
PHILIP KELLERMAN, president
Harvest of Hope Foundation
…and the Flow Will Not Be Stanched
Great thanks for Gary Younge’s cogently argued “Immigration Is Not a Domestic Problem” [“Beneath the Radar,” Feb. 25]. In the nine countries I have lived and worked in, I have seen, standing outside US consulates in all weather, the lines of hopeful aspirants to American immigration—each person or family holding their precious documents. Many appear day after day in such queues but never achieve the dreamed-of visa. And so I am ambivalent about the flow of illegal immigration, largely across our southern border. But here, too, many are worthy, honest, industrious and often desperate. This flow will continue until the nations from which it originates become more livable for their citizens. In its own crucial self-interest, the United States should encourage the growth of progressive democracies rather than weak, narco-friendly oligarchies or corporate-friendly plutocracies, which provide the illusion of stability while driving their citizens into poverty, fear, and life-threatening border crossings and overcrowded boats.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Diminishing Expectations,” Louis Uchitelle’s article on “two-tier” union contracts [Feb. 25], gets it right on all points. Two-tier schemes are part of the downward slide of union wages and benefits, a decline facilitated by a union leadership that lacks vision and acts in collusion with corporate bottom-liners. The UAW’s latest ploy to shore up profits at Chrysler and GM is to approve a “flexible operating pattern,” which forces ten-hour days and does away with overtime pay for Saturday hours. In our factory, one shift requires ten hours beginning at 4 pm Monday and Tuesday, and another ten hours on Friday and Saturday at 5:30 am. With two more similar shifts, the company can schedule 120 hours of production a week without having to pay overtime. This scheme can be implemented only with the approval of the UAW International leadership and is not subject to local negotiation.