Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Article excerpt

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 AngelesThe 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 Guantanamo 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. …

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