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Letters to the Editor

Immigration and deportation

September 5, 2011

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'Illegals': a term not just dehumanizing, but imprecise

RE “OBAMA’S immigration policy points in the right direction’’ (Editorial, Aug. 29): In a contentious public policy area such as immigration, vocabulary is important. It is dispiriting to read that the Globe, too, has fallen into the cliché of describing a large section of noncitizens as “illegals.’’ Notwithstanding the dehumanizing tone of this adjective-turned-noun, many of us advocates take issue with the term because it lacks precision. Included among the individuals that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the power to detain and deport are:

■ Asylum-seekers whose stated reason for entering the United States is fear of persecution in another country;

■ A longtime legal resident who has a single conviction dating back to a time when such convictions were not deportable offenses;

■ A legal resident who is appealing a conviction for a deportable offense;

■ Students whose visas have lapsed because they did not have the resources to stay enrolled full time;

■ An individual from a visa-waiver country (primarily rich, Western European countries) who has remained in the United States for more than 90 days but is legally married to a US citizen;

■ People who have entered the United States illegally but now may have a right to legal status based on certain criminal actions, such as human trafficking, committed against them.

Which of these individuals is “illegal’’ is unclear to me. Some of them may be undocumented, while some have had their green card for decades. And while many are immigrants, some do not intend to stay in the United States permanently. The most accurate, and neutral, term would be “noncitizen,’’ although ICE has been known to arrest and deport US citizens as well.

Matthew J. Lamberti

Staff attorney

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center

York, Pa.

Put an end, not just a tweak, to Secure Communities

THE LATEST attempt to silence voices against programs such as Secure Communities once again misses the mark (“Obama’s immigration policy points in the right direction,’’ Editorial, Aug. 29). This so-called initiative is nothing but a strategy to paper over valid criticisms, and divide and conquer critics. A few immigrants will breathe a sigh of relief as they avoid deportation. But for a great many people caught in the administration’s widening dragnet, which has resulted in an all-time high of more than 1 million deportations, these latest changes will have no effect.

Contrary to what you maintain in your editorial, there is, in fact, much more that the Department of Homeland Security can do without congressional cooperation. Instead of relying on the discretion of Homeland Security agents and administrators to make case-by-case decisions, the agency can issue a binding policy to not deport certain classes of immigrants, such as noncriminals or crime victims. Doing otherwise encourages immigrants to avoid contact with police, making it easier for serious criminals to avoid capture.

The administration should respond to legitimate concerns by ending Secure Communities instead of evading the issue with small fixes that are designed to make a political point as opposed to creating real change.

Laura Rótolo

Staff attorney

ACLU of Massachusetts


‘Peaceful, undocumented,’ but here illegally, and unfair to others

I THOUGHT your lead Aug. 29 editorial “Obama’s immigration policy points in the right direction’’ presented a rational view of the illegal immigration issue until I read the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph, in which you write, “No one should benefit from illegal activity, and giving guest-worker status to peaceful, undocumented workers who follow the laws and pay taxes does not give them a leg up on others who have sought to come here lawfully.’’

This is ludicrous. The leg up they get is that they are here and have been for many years, while those seeking to come here lawfully may wait years before they can get in, and in some cases may never get in.

Anthony Martinelli


THIS IS in response to the insane Aug. 29 editorial about President Obama’s immigration policy: Can someone show me any “peaceful, undocumented workers who follow the law’’? No undocumented worker follows the law.

Undocumented workers have false documents, even false names. These people are getting away with criminal activities.

Imagine the insanity of saying an illegal immigrant can be law-abiding. That’s like saying, “Hi, I’m a bank robber, and I legally withdraw money.’’

Joe Rizoli