* Jonathan Freedman's Column Left, "Save Our State? It's More Like Spite Our State" (July 19), won't fool California voters. The question the Save Our State initiative poses is crystal-clear: Should illegal aliens receive the same package of taxpayer-funded government benefits as legal immigrants and U.S. citizens?
The answer is no. We can no longer afford to offer free housing, cash, education, Medicaid (except emergency medical services) and scores of other programs to anyone who manages to cross our border illegally. And, contrary to Freedman's assertions, denying these benefits to illegal aliens doesn't equate to "ethnic cleansing," is not unconstitutional and certainly doesn't "demonize" immigrants, illegal or otherwise.
State officials estimate that providing a whole host of government benefits to illegal aliens costs California taxpayers almost $3 billion per year. This at a time when our own citizens are faced with higher taxes and reduced benefits.
And yet there are those who insist we must provide such benefits, even though illegal aliens are often served to the detriment of legal immigrants and our own citizens. The Democratic majority in Congress recently prevented me from offering an amendment to exclude illegal aliens from the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, allowing the payment of WIC funds to illegal-alien mothers to continue. Never mind that the program provides benefits to only 70% of eligible mothers, and that for every illegal alien served, a citizen or legal immigrant mother is left out.
Suggesting that taxpayer-funded government programs should benefit our own citizens and legal immigrants is not hateful or nativist. The American dream is available to almost a million legal immigrants a year. Spending California, and America, into debt to provide benefits to illegal aliens denies everyone the opportunity America offers. And that hurts immigrants and citizens alike.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER
* Thanks for Freedman's column. As a former adult education teacher, an adult literacy coordinator and a resident of California since 1952, I not only agree with what Freedman had to say but would like to affirm my tremendous respect for our "Mex-American" neighbors and for the laws of our land.
We may not all be able to write columns like Freedman, but all who feel as he does should speak up at each opportunity and let our views be known. Then, maybe, the 62% who favor SOS would be reversed and our state would be spared from committing a grave injustice.
MARGARET L. FISHER
* Re "Mahony to Fight Ballot Measure on Immigrants," July 24:
I would be the last to deny Cardinal Roger Mahony his right to feel as he does about illegal aliens in California. My only concern is that he makes his public denouncement of Proposition 187 with his own funds and not under the aegis of an organization that is exempt from paying taxes, property and others. This country has seen fit to separate church and state and given privileges to the former. His violation of this separation is an infringement on all taxpayers who believe that laws apply equally to all.
IRWIN J. MECHANIC
* Cardinal Mahony is entitled to his personal opinion on Proposition 187, but he is not entitled to foist his religious viewpoints on the rest of us. If he wants to give illegal aliens public benefits, then let the Catholic Church put up the money to pay for them.
V. FRED RAYSER