Letters to the Editor, Dec. 20


Immigration bill is mean-spirited
To the editor:
The U.S. House of Representatives just passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437), which now goes to the Senate for consideration. This ill-conceived, mean-spirited bill, presented in response to U.S. immigration challenges, offers no solutions to our failed immigration system, and accentuates precisely the policies that have led to our growing undocumented immigrant population.
   Current estimates suggest that 8-12 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. Many, if not most, of these immigrants enter the United States to seek better lives for themselves and their families. They are drawn by job opportunities with U.S. businesses and industries that rely on undocumented workers to survive (i.e. food service, construction, janitorial/cleaning, child care, landscaping, tourism, etc.) Under our immigration laws, however, visas do not exist to enable these workers to enter the country legally to fill year-round jobs, and only 65,000 visas are available nationwide for seasonal workers — probably not enough to meet the employment needs of Manhattan, let alone the entire country.
   Instead of fostering an immigration system that recognizes the legitimate need of U.S. employers to fill positions unwanted by U.S. workers, H.R. 4437 punishes employers who hire undocumented workers, and criminalizes individuals unlawfully present in the United States. Consequently, immigrants who unwittingly violate their status, like foreign university students whose course loads drop below the required hours, can be criminally prosecuted under H.R. 4437. The bill also charges as smugglers social-service organizations, refugee agencies, churches, attorneys and other groups that counsel immigrants. Additionally, H.R. 4437 eviscerates due-process protections that serve as the cornerstone of our democratic values, by expanding the scope of mandatory detention and expedited removal of immigrants, while eliminating access to courts, and judicial review and oversight.
   This enforcement-only approach to immigration follows in the footsteps of enforcement polices that have failed for two decades. From 1986 to 2002, the United States tripled the number of Border Patrol officers and increased their hours eight-fold, but, during this period, the likelihood of apprehension dropped from 33 percent to 5 percent. These enforcement policies do not enhance our security, and push undocumented immigrants further into the shadows of society.
   H.R. 4437 reflects the narrow view of those who see immigrants as the problem, rather than our immigration laws. While urging our U.S. senators to reject H.R. 4437, we should encourage support for other legislation, like the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S. 1033), sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Unlike H.R. 4437, the McCain/Kennedy bill offers a broader view of America’s future and honestly confronts the issues that lead to illegal immigration. By providing legal avenues for foreign nationals to live and work in the United States, and increasing border-protection tools, McCain/Kennedy creates a system that will decrease the number of undocumented immigrants; bar entry to individuals trying to harm America, rather than work for Ameri- cans; and meet the labor needs of U.S. employers.
Ryan Stark Lilienthal
Maple Street
Council disregards residents’ input
To the editor:
In my opinion, Thomas Roshetar just does not seem to get the point. Mr. Roshetar’s letter (The Packet, Dec. 16) utilized much page space (and many impressive vocabulary words) without addressing a topic that has not been resolved satisfactorily in recent years in Rocky Hill — the disregard for our residents’ input into important borough matters.
   Historically, I have always considered myself a Republican. Rocky Hill, however, does not have issues that should be party-influenced. We all agree that traffic should be calmed on our roadways, we all agree that our property taxes should be kept at a minimum without sacrificing necessary services and comforts. The one area where our small town continues to be divided is that the Republican members of our Borough Council appear to believe that important decisions, such as the replacement of a resigning council member, should be made without providing the opportunity for comment from the public.
   Jared Witt and Ed Zimmerman most likely feel that Eileen Uhrik is a qualified and capable candidate, but I commend them for understanding that her appointment by the council should not be made without the mere consideration of the viewpoints of their constituents. I do not believe that these gentlemen are opposed to the Republican Committee’s choice; rather, they are simply attempting to open the door and let some smoke out of the room.
Michael Petrane
Montgomery Avenue
Rocky Hill
Holiday party was a joyous occasion
To the editor:
The Princeton Senior Resource Center would like to thank everyone who helped make our holiday party a success this year. This is a much-anticipated annual event — a special, joyous occasion for older adults in the Princeton community to visit with friends and enjoy live entertainment and a holiday meal.
   We thank Acorn Glen for providing the main meal and Buckingham Place for providing transportation. Thanks to Sandy Maxwell for setting the mood at the piano, and to the Stony Brook Garden Club for the decorations that transformed the room for the occasion.
   Thanks also to Whole Foods, Wegmans and McCaffrey’s for providing food, and to Wachovia Bank for supporting the event. Our appreciation extends to Trinity Church and Kimble Funeral Home for lending furniture, to Morven for parking, to the Princeton Borough Public Works Department for their assistance getting it set up and to the PSRC board and volunteers who make it happen.
   Most of all, thanks to everyone who attended for sharing your joyous holiday spirit and celebrating the role that PSRC plays in your lives.
Susan W. Hoskins
Executive Director
Princeton Senior Resource Center
Stockton Street
Support nonprofits with holiday gifts
To the editor:
Right about now, there are many of us running around wondering what to get that special person on the list who has everything, is difficult to buy for, or just doesn’t want another thing.
   Here’s an idea. Does the person you want to remember have a special cause that is dear to their heart? Do they support a nonprofit with their time, talent or treasure? If so, think about giving a gift in their name.
   Not sure which nonprofit to choose? Consider honoring them with a gift to their community foundation’s regional grants fund. In case you are wondering, there are community foundations in over 700 communities across America so you can even support one where your Aunt Sadie lives far from here. Or, if they have a focused interest, make your gift to a fund that supports it — for example, women, youth, education, the arts or the environment. Joined with those of many others, your gift will make a meaningful difference.
   And while honoring a loved one by making a charitable gift is quick and easy, its impact will make a real difference in the lives of others in the communities we call home.
   Best wishes for a joyous holiday season.
Nancy Kieling
President and Executive Director
Princeton Area Community Foundation
Princess Road
Reply to letter misses the point
To the editor:
I wish to thank Harley Pickens whose letter (The Packet, Dec. 13) clarified for us that while the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district is a top school district in the state of New Jersey it is not always the No. 1 school district.
   My point, however, is that developers eager to get their hands on the proposed transit village consistently underestimate the number of school children that will be generated in West Windsor — since they use average numbers generated across New Jersey by other transit villages that are not nearly as attractive as West Windsor is to parents seeking schools for their kids. Just ask yourself whether our schools attracted you to live here.
   Harley’s other point deals with the $500,000 that had been authorized in earlier budgets as part of our contribution to the Grovers Mill project, a sum that now may reach $1.2 million instead if our Township Council (and budgets are always done by the Township Council, a point that Harley misread) decides that ensuring that the water quality in the pond is up to the state’s highest water-quality standards for aquatic life. The issue here, however, is whether aquatic life should benefit from scarce township dollars when human public safety on our roads seems to be a matter of life and death. Whether the taxpayers should sell a liquor license to pay for this expense, as has been proposed by the mayor, is beside the point. This is still taxpayer money.
Farrell Delman
Bear Brook Road
West Windsor
Don’t de-Christianize the spirit of Christmas
To the editor:
My thanks to the letter by Maria Larkin (The Packet, Dec. 13), who has the courage to speak out on what I call the de-Christianization of the spirit of Christmas.
   I am opposed to the display of the menorah, which is a religious object, and next to it is the display of a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is not a religious object; it has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree evolved in Germany before Christianity as an object to celebrate the winter solstice.
   I have boycotted shops that do not display the nativity scene next to the menorah. It is best for them to not display anything.
   The Christmas spirit, which has been a part of our culture since our Founding Fathers, is fast disappearing into a heathenistic celebration of mass consumption.
   Merry Christmas — and may it resurrect into the true meaning of the Christmas celebration.
Joe Freda
Penn Lyle Road
West Windsor
Stop killing us; pass Smoke Free Air Act
To the editor:
There’s no filter for the truth, and the truth is secondhand smoke is killing New Jersey citizens. New Jersey needs to stop killing us, and pass the Smoke Free Air Act.
   I survived a massive heart attack at age 34. Since that time, I have survived numerous cardiac catheterization procedures as well as angioplasty, stent and more serious cardiac procedures. I live with an implanted defibrillator and pacemaker. My doctor has told me to avoid tobacco smoke at all costs. The effects of secondhand smoke could kill me.
   As an American Heart Association board member and heart-attack survivor, I join the American Heart Association and New Jersey BREATHES, a statewide New Jersey tobacco-control coalition of more than 45 leading state, health, nonprofit and civic organizations, to urge passage of the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act before the end of the current legislative session. Being in a smoke-filled room is worse than smoking a cigarette, says the American Heart Association. The smoke from the tip of a cigarette is 20 times more dangerous than what a smoker inhales.
   I shouldn’t have to risk my life to enjoy a performance at a nightclub, a meal at certain restaurants or a game of bowling. My friends, family members and neighbors working in these establishments should not have to risk their health or lives simply to earn a living. All employees working in any New Jersey business deserve a healthy and safe, smoke-free workplace.
   During the past decade or so that New Jersey has discussed various forms of clean indoor air or smoke-free air legislation, the American Heart Association and The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimate that nearly 19,000 people in New Jersey have died during that time due to the effects of secondhand smoke. Stop the killing. Pass the New Jersey Smokefree Air Act now.
Gerry Schwab
Board Member
American Heart Association
Route 1
North Brunswick