Out of bounds
In his article about illegal immigrants ["The Other Side," Nov. 17], Chris Young refers to comments made by immigration attorney Jackie Martinez which are highly critical of U.S. immigration policy. For example, "Martinez says hiring a legal immigrant worker isn't worth the hassle" and "immigrating to the U.S. illegally is just about the only way to do it." While the situation of providing an adequate number of visas for unskilled workers is a policy well worth debating, this does not justify breaking U.S. immigration law.
American citizenship is not a human right. It is a legal status and privilege given to those who have gone through the appropriate channels and filled out the necessary paperwork, however voluminous and complicated it may be. While foreign skilled workers or family members of naturalized American citizens might have advantages in the immigration process, this issue must be resolved through the legal legislative process, not by the initiative of foreign workers, however desperate their circumstances.
For several years I have been a volunteer for the Pittsburgh Refugee and Immigration Assistance Center (PRIAC). Among my activities, I have helped prepare immigrants from Africa, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East for their naturalization interviews with a Citizenship and Immigration Services representative. I continue to admire the United States for the opportunity it offers to those who wish to start a new life in a new country. I also admire the determination and resolve of the immigrants I have worked with, many without any material advantage or assistance, in their pursuit of legal citizenship.
If your readers are interested in volunteering for PRIAC and helping legal immigrants become citizens, they can call the director of PRIAC directly at 412-904-5950.
-- Alexander Zabusky, Squirrel Hill
As a constituent of state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, I find it embarrassing to continually read about his forays into issues that are little more than attempts to pander and grab headlines. As City Paper's excellent article "The Other Side" details, Metcalfe has ignored almost every truth in his crusade against "illegal aliens." Immigrants come to this nation to seek a better life, leaving behind their native societies that hinder their achievement. By coming to this nation, everyone benefits because of the increased productivity that the nation as a whole accumulates.
I believe that all restrictions on immigration, save those applying to criminals and those with communicable diseases, are anti-American and were in fact cited in the Declaration of Independence as grievances against the British crown. The effect of Rep. Metcalfe's efforts will only serve to hamper the economy while destroying the founding philosophy of this nation.
Duquesne University law school professor Bruce Ledewitz's comments regarding his new book on secularism, meanwhile, are alarming ["Hallowed Secularism," Nov. 7]. Ledewitz voices no objection to people mandating their religious beliefs on others through legislation because it is "democracy." Ledewitz's statement rests on the conflation of democracy -- unlimited majority rule -- with the American style of government, republicanism. In a democracy, it is permissible for 51 percent of the population to vote the other 49 percent into enslavement. However, in a constitutional republic, where individual rights are inviolable, it cannot occur. Democracy is a recipe for tyranny of the majority and the Founders understood that when this nation was created.
Over time, most Americans have become less aware of this vital distinction and do not understand the implications of it. While democratic elections are a part of a constitutional republic's mechanics, it is not akin to the unlimited majority rule that resulted in the execution of Socrates, the Salem Witch Trials, and the farce that is the current government of Iraq.
Wary of the danger of our nation slipping out of its intended form, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin stated that the form of government he helped create was "a republic, if you can keep it." It is unfortunate and inexcusable for a law professor to perpetuate this fallacy.
-- Amesh Adalja, Butler