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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

May 4, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Arizona immigration law under fire

Posted by Letters editor

Check in with China, where Congress revoked power to arrest migrants

“Arizona: a great place not to be” [Opinion, May 2] is a great read. Let me enrich his piece and broaden the context by using two incidents

I know from Taiwan and mainland China about apprehending illegal migrants. First, I could add one more criterion to Leonard Pitts Jr.’s only three cues —dark features, accented English, etc. —for spotting an illegal immigrant, especially when migrants and locals look the same.

A few years ago, a cop in Taipei picked up an illegal migrant from the mainland riding in a cab because he wore the seat belt the wrong way — around his neck.

In 2003, an “undocumented” internal migrant from another city, named Sun Zhigan, was detained in Guangzhou in China. Apparently, Sun argued with the cops in the detention center and was beaten to death later in the cops’ hands.

This tragedy prompted widespread public outrage and China’s Congress moved unbelievably swiftly (in three months) to change the law and took away the cops’ powers to arrest undocumented internal migrants in an effort to curb further police abuses and tragedies.

— Kam Wing Chan, Shoreline

Show your papers and be on your way

I am a strong proponent of immigration reform. I feel we need to change our laws to make it easier for laborers to legally enter and work in our country. But I do not understand the outrage among many regarding the new Arizona law.

I come from a somewhat unique perspective. My grandmother legally immigrated to the United States from Mexico; I lived and worked as a legal alien in Italy. Before I left for Italy, my grandmother reminded me that I should respect the laws and customs of Italy even if they were different from those I was accustomed to in the United States.

That advice came in handy. On many occasions, I was asked by Italian authorities to show my papers proving I was legally in their country. In each instance, I simply showed my papers, which I was required to carry at all times, and continued on my way. Thanks to my grandmother, not once did I consider it a personal attack; I instead understood that was just part of how the Italian system worked.

Likewise, people in the United States legally have nothing to fear in Arizona or any other state. If asked, show your papers and be on your way.

I know many are upset with the immigration system here in the United States, but I feel that being upset at an Arizona law, which simply seeks to help enforce laws already in place, is misguided. The misplaced focus would only hurt efforts toward true immigration reform in the long run.

— Hovie Hawk, Seattle

What’s the big deal?

It is hard to understand why there is such a fuss about the new Arizona immigration law. Of all Americans, 39 percent are against it and 51 percent approve of it. What is the problem? It is exactly like federal immigration laws, which have been in the books for decades.

There have been few complaints about the federal law. If someone is in the United States and gets stopped for breaking the law, a police officer should be able to ask for proof of citizenship, such as a green card. If the perpetrator is not a legal citizen, he or she would be taken into custody as an illegal immigrant. How anyone could find fault in that is something to wonder about.

— Ed Anderson, Kirkland

McGinn, Seattle City Council boycotting travel to Arizona

Arizona residents read with interest how Seattle’s mayor, Mike McGinn, wants to refuse to let Seattle city employees travel to Arizona until the new immigration law is repealed. Instead of doing anything that might help solve the immigration problem, he wants to take punitive actions that would have the net effect of putting people out of work in Arizona.

What a problem-solver you have there in your fine city.

We have more than half a million known illegal immigrants down here in Arizona. Why doesn’t McGinn step up and do something positive to help solve the problem?

With his blessing, we would send 1,000 busloads of illegal immigrants up and drop them off in downtown Seattle. At 50 per bus, that is only 50,000 immigrants —less the 10 percent of ours. We would not do any profiling, so you are sure to get a good sampling of the drug lords and other gangster types.

If Seattle’s mayor is not willing to help solve the problems here, we would certainly request that he does not take punitive actions against the hardworking, taxpaying citizens of our state. Instead, maybe there are some problems up in the state of Washington where he could apply his political influence and problem-solving skills.

— Skip Welch, Phoenix, Ariz.

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