Letters

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Peeling away more layers of the great immigration debate

Regarding the May 25 article, "Rising black-Latino clash on jobs": Unskilled jobs that were once the first employment for young blacks are now often done by legal and illegal immigrants. Labor economist Andrew Sum has reported that jobs that used to go to teens currently go to illegal aliens.

Furthermore, foreigners now fill jobs that previously paid a living wage to adult African-Americans. Janitorial work in Los Angeles was unionized and provided a decent living for mostly black workers in the 1980s. But this was turned into exploitation-level employment when thousands of immigrants were brought in to reduce wages by half.

The best thing Washington could do to benefit black Americans who have stalled at the lower end of economic progress would be to institute an immigration moratorium for a decade or so. Unfortunately, the Senate just voted for a cheap-labor amnesty bill that will bring millions of surplus workers into an already flooded low-skilled labor market. That influx will harm black workers along with everyone else - except for the employers who benefit from cheap, exploitative labor.Brenda WalkerBerkeley, Calif.

Regarding the May 25 article on race and immigration: I work in the oil industry. In my experience with hiring individuals, race has not been a factor. The primary factor for not being able to hire someone is his or her inability to pass a drug test. It seems that most persons in their 20s and 30s are either using drugs, or have used drugs in the past. I have seen many try to get around drug screenings, but most users have failed the tests. If drug use does not disqualify potential hirees, the inability to communicate coherently does them in.Glen FosterFlint, Texas

In response to the May 26 article, "Immigration: now the hard part": While the Senate appears to be willing to address the issue of 11 million illegals who are in the US, it appears it is rewarding those who are here illegally. I would hope that any plan to allow "guest workers" to gain US citizenship would include a requirement that they pay taxes for at least five years before gaining citizenship. …