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Readers React

Memo to Kern County: 'Okies' were immigrants too

To the editor: No small irony underlies Kern County officials' denial, briefly noted in your editorial, of all but one of 160 applications by immigrants in the country illegally asking for certificates confirming their cooperation with police and prosecutors after being victimized by violent or serious crimes committed in the county. ("Sorting out U.S. visas for crime victims," Editorial, Jan. 25)

Such documentation is required for victims' applications for federal U-Visas that enable them to remain in the U.S. for a few years; the availability of such visas greatly encourages victims to report crimes.

About half of Kern County's citizen residents — presumably including county officials — are descendants of "Okies," who famously immigrated to the San Joaquin Valley during the Great Depression. These immigrants themselves continually suffered discrimination and crime at the hands of residents, creating abject hardships like those endured by the Joad family of John Steinbeck's 1939 novel, "Grapes of Wrath."

Question for Kern County officials who descended from "Okies": Why no empathy for the plight of today's victimized immigrants?

Edward Alston, Santa Maria

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