Immigrants deserve equal employment opportunities

Published: Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 16, 2004 at 11:19 p.m.

The Jan. 12 letter from Raquel Gras was full of inaccuracies. Immigrants come to the United States mainly for two reasons: either they are being persecuted in their countries of origin or they cannot find gainful employment in their poverty stricken countries.

I am Cuban, but I was not helped from day one.

My wife, my 18-month-old son and I came to Gainesville in 1961. My wife worked as a secretary at the University of Florida, and I worked and enrolled at the university with the help of student loans. I graduated in 1967. We worked hard for 40 years, and last year retired and moved back to Gainesville.

Five of our six children are UF graduates. My father-in-law, who was an attorney, a journalist and a prominent figure in Cuba, held a clerical position at UF until he retired at age 70.

My story is not unique; I know many Cubans who have done the same. Although there might be some unemployed immigrants who need food stamps and free medical care, this is the exception rather than the rule. And, by the way, they cannot be undocumented aliens because, in order to qualify for those benefits, you need a Social Security number.

In my work in Florida and in Georgia, I have had the opportunity to deal with migrant workers. These are extremely decent, hard-working people who deserve to be able to go to work without fearing that the INS will apprehend them. These are the people whom President Bush acknowledged for their character and work habits, and who will benefit from his proposed immigration law.

This does not make them permanent residents or U.S. citizens; this will only allow them to move freely in this country of opportunity.

Javier A. Lescano


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