To the Editor:
As someone who spent 30 years as a machinist and is now retraining in paralegal studies, I believe I’ve seen both sides of the divide that David Brooks speaks of in regard to attitudes toward immigration.
In my experience, the root of the national schism over immigration policy is not cultural attitude but economic reality. The fact of the matter is that few if any of the estimated 12 million people here in the United States illegally are here to work as actuarials or English professors or newspaper columnists—the sorts of jobs normally held by university grads. They are here to work as bricklayers or welders or landscapers.
I would posit that if illegal immigration were undermining the wages of editors and lawyers instead of janitors and kitchen staff, the current debate might sound quite a bit different.
Chicago, June 12, 2007
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