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Viewpoint: A response to a rubuttal to a response

I would ask Steve Lagoon (Feb. 18 Viewpoint, Bulletin) to read a bit more carefully before he dashes off rebuttals, as I'm certainly not naive enough to claim that "there aren't millions of illegal immigrants working in America."

And with regard to your labeling me as an "ostrich," Mr. Lagoon, in the past I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) for more than 15 years, overwhelmingly to young Hispanic adults.

Some were here legally, some were not; we didn't ask, but sometimes they shared their stories. Some students became friends. And yes, of course they came here for the jobs. (Jobs were plentiful a short time ago, remember?)

I objected to Mr. Lagoon's statement in his original Viewpoint (on the economy) that "Millions of American workers are unemployed because illegal immigrants have taken their jobs."

Immigration is a complex issue, and one that certainly needs fixing. But it has become almost trendy to look around and blame immigrants whenever things go wrong -- and then ignore them for a few more years.

They are certainly not the reason so many American workers are suddenly unemployed, with more being added to the list every day.

Studies, of course, can prove both sides of an issue, depending on who's doing the studying.

But as recently as 2006 a Pew research study (a non-partisan organization) found that "Big increases in immigration since 1990 have not hurt employment prospects for U.S. workers" and that there was "no evidence that increases in immigration led to higher unemployment among Americans...

The center studied census data on the increase in immigrants from 1990 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2004, for each state.

It matched those figures with state employment rates, unemployment rates and participation in the labor force among native-born Americans." (Associated Press, 8/10/06) (The study did not research the impact of immigration on actual wages.)

With the economy in its present state, there are of course many Americans now willing to do any job in order to stay in their homes and feed their families. So the situation is changing, and I pointed out that some immigrants have been observed heading home.

I commend Mr. Lagoon for his concern about exploitation of "vulnerable illegals." It happens, I witnessed it, and I certainly would never defend it.

It should be noted, though, that compared to their own countries, the money they can earn here looks like a gold mine. Locally, at least, many of those I knew were earning well above the minimum wage.

And they are not being kept here against their will.) In spite of the current trend to dogpile on employers, we've all been complicit in these arrangements which have been going on in plain view for decades.

How many of us have insisted on paying more for our landscaping, or roofing, or meat products so that those immigrants performing the work could have their own 401k's? Instead, we've enjoyed the resulting lower prices, same as we do with goods made in China.

On another note, a big "hat's off" to John Penas for his fair-minded letter, and for attending the town hall meeting! I should have been there myself.

Turnbull is a Woodbury resident.