To the editor: I completely support the Santa Barbara News-Press in its use of the word "illegals." ("Amid outcry, News-Press is adamant on provocative term for immigrants," Jan. 19)
How is it racist to describe the legal status of an immigrant? Where is the reference to race? Anyone who crosses sovereign borders illegally is an illegal immigrant — as in, that person broke immigration laws to enter a country. Anyone, any country.
And how is that word remotely comparable to "the 'N-word' for blacks," as Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo alleges?
When The Times and Associated Press banned the term, they let political correctness become a tool of censorship. Bravo to the News-Press for rebuffing political correctness.
Penny Peyser, Woodland Hills
To the editor: News-Press Co-Publisher Arthur von Wiesenberger labels those who object to his newspaper's use of the word "illegals" as "thugs." His statement reinforces the low regard that so many here in Santa Barbara have for the local daily paper.
The people I know who find the newspaper's attitude and language pejorative and hate-fueled hardly qualify as thugs. They are hard-working men and women in our community and represent teachers, lawyers, students and others.
As in the past several years, the thuggish behavior belongs to the News-Press management.
Hap Freund, Santa Barbara
To the editor: "Illegal"? Yes, but why?
We've chosen to ban certain groups from our shores ever since the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. It wasn't always this way. When German immigration in the early 18th century threatened to overwhelm the largely English and Scots-Irish population of Pennsylvania, the government took action.
Were they banned? No, but the government did keep tabs on them. Beginning in 1727, the heads of families were required, upon their arrival in Philadelphia, to swear allegiance to King George III.
Many of those immigrants (or their sons) ended up fighting for our independence a half-century later.
So, dear News-Press editors, insult the current crop of "the homeless, tempest-tost" if you must. But know that for three centuries every group that has come here has, on balance, contributed to the building of this country, public policy notwithstanding.
Gordon Seyffert, Burbank
The writer is editor of the Immigrant Genealogical Society newsletter.