Speakout

The Baltimore Sun

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- Anne Arundel County officials said they will sever ties with government contractors that employ illegal immigrants.

County Executive John R. Leopold issued an executive order this month that will require businesses to sign an affidavit swearing they do not employ people living in the country illegally. Evidence that a company has hired illegal immigrants would allow the county to drop the contractor.

Leopold said the federal government "hypocritically" tolerates such practices, but Anne Arundel will not.

Critics of the measure include Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, who said it has the potential to further discrimination of Hispanics and could hurt businesses that use immigrant labor. Bob Burdon, president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce, added that the order is offensive because it implies that local businesses are not following federal law.

What kind of impact will Leopold's order have on employment in the county?

Kudos for cracking down on illegal hires

John Leopold made a good decision seeking to outlaw Anne Arundel County contractors from hiring illegal immigrants.

These people came into the United States illegally and have been living in Maryland illegally. These illegal immigrants have not paid taxes like we have, yet have been able to take advantages of taxpayer benefits.

The impact of the county executive's idea may be hard at first, but it will lead to a much stronger, safer county.

Victor Henderson Glen Burnie

Sick and tired of Democrats' cries

I was relieved to read that County Executive John R. Leopold is attempting to force the federal government to deal with the illegal immigration problem by complying with its own laws.

At long last someone has the intestinal fortitude to actually do something about this issue.

I am sick and tired of all the crying that Democrats have been doing about pouring more and more public funds into free medical care, food stamps, welfare and WIC programs for illegal immigrants.

It sounds to me like county councilman Daryl Jones and Bob Burdon, president of the county chamber of commerce, just don't want to do their jobs when they say "It doesn't carve out anything new" and "We're still trying to figure out why he [Leopold] felt it necessary to do this, when it's been policy all along."

What is going on with these people? Possibly if Mr. Jones and Mr. Burdon would use their heads for something other than a hat rack, and help Mr. Leopold in his endeavor, we wouldn't have the problems that now exist.

Norman Cutsail Brooklyn Park

Executive order is right step for county

It is inequitable to place legitimate employers who play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage when competing for county contracts against employers who pay below-market wage rates to illegal immigrants. That is harmful to the citizens of this county in all walks of life.

The county executive has instructed the Office of Law to evaluate the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act to ascertain if this law would enable designated county officers to help perform immigration law enforcement functions.

While the county executive is limited in the options available to address the problem of illegal immigration, his executive order is clearly a step in the right direction.

Fred Schram

The writer is the central services officer in Anne Arundel County.

Hypocritical officials just playing games

Unfortunately, most fundamentalist Republicans and many moderate Republicans/Democrats are hypocritical when it concerns illegal immigrants.

In public, they favor depriving them of all humane rights such as ID/documentation cards, health/emergency services, jobs, housing, paying all types of taxes, etc. that the typical citizen takes for granted. They use the smokescreen about their unfairly obtaining U.S. citizenship as the means to justify keeping them here illegally -- their legal presence would be opposed even if they never obtained citizenship!

But at the same time, they want to keep them here as illegal "slaves" on the run, which makes them fair game for financial exploitation by all types of businesses, and even people of all color.

Under this illegal status, one can basically feel guiltless and legally justified to exploit and treat inhumanely their own "slave." Many politicians are "bought" to write laws that basically ensure they are kept here as illegals for exploitation purposes, while publicly opposing their presence. They do not want to solve this profitable problem -- which is solvable in a fair way.

Fredrick Lebert Pasadena

Immigration laws protect citizens

As lifelong residents of Anne Arundel County, we applaud the action taken by our county executive regarding employing individuals who entered the U.S. illegally. Our elected officials must support our immigration laws, which exist to protect our country's citizens.

Robert and Beverly Bassford Severna Park

Agencies should step up to the plate

At last, a public official with guts steps into the fray and shows leadership. Back in the '80s when President Ronald Reagan made a halfhearted attempt to rein in the illegal immigrants who were pouring into the Southwest, especially his home state of California, all, and I mean all, employers had to certify the status of their non-American citizen employees. What happened to that law?

The county executive is trying to get a handle on those non-American citizen workers who county taxpayers would be supporting.

I have no quarrel with immigrants coming to our country to work on whatever job they wish. Obviously, there are Americans who do not wish to perform certain tasks for the wages offered.

However, noncitizen workers should come in on a work visa, as is the legal path. They should be sponsored by an employer. They should be able to choose whether to bring their immediate family (wife and children). They should not have to pay Social Security taxes, as their work visa will have a time limitation on it, and they should have no benefits. Their employer should be responsible for paying for their health needs. Their children should not attend public school.

The employers, the Motor Vehicle Administration and the schools are the keys to identifying illegal immigrants as they all require identification, place of residence and, in the case of public schools, evidence of the earning level of parents for the free lunch programs. The employers are getting the benefit of illegal immigrant workers and, by right, should step up and do what's right.

Bill Kerns Annapolis

Thanks, Leopold, for protecting residents

I applaud County Executive John Leopold for seeking to hold companies that employ illegal immigrants accountable and to terminate the contracts they have with the county.

If the federal and state governments do not want to control this problem of illegal immigrants entering and working in our county, state and country, why shouldn't Mr. Leopold protect the citizens of his county?

Contractors have a responsibility to the communities they live and work in to support our laws as individuals do. How much of an effort is it for an employer to check the legal documents of individuals who they are hiring? If they want cheap labor, then they need to pay for the review of the documents that provide proof that the people are here legally.

There are many companies that compete for the county contracts and would gladly agree to these requirements. This will not have an impact on the services we receive. It will also allow legal citizens and immigrants an opportunity to fill these positions.

We would not have these problems if we would stop people from entering the country illegally! Mr. Torres should be working toward getting these people the legal documents and not support illegal actions by any individual or group.

Ken Hasenei Millersville

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