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Opinion

Opinion: Why print letters expressing callous indifference to migrants?

Mexicans seeking political asylum camp near the Bridge of the Americas international port of entry in Ciudad Juarez on Sept. 26.
Mexicans seeking political asylum camp near the Bridge of the Americas international port of entry in Ciudad Juarez on Sept. 26.
(Los Angeles Times)

Articles on humans struggling to survive or improve their lives sometimes prompt scolding replies from our letter writers. That’s even more true if those people have children or are immigrants.

It’s a pattern we’ve seen on everything from working or unemployed mothers who cannot afford diapers to, most recently, asylum seekers held up interminably just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. In response to an article this week on the growing frustration of Mexican migrants waiting to enter the United States, several letter writers said they were unmoved by the asylum seekers’ plight.

Those letters prompted a backlash by readers who expressed dismay at the antipathy shown to people who are suffering. Below are some of those replies.

Bella Silverstein of Santa Clarita rebuts the letters point by point:

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Three letter writers made interesting claims. The first said that Mexican refugees are under no threat. The second claimed no one has a right to come to the U.S. The third said migrants bring on their own troubles by having babies.

Mexicans seeking asylum can be under threat of persecution and violence from drug cartels and organized crime, with local police, judges and courts unwilling to help.

Seeking refuge in the U.S. is legal. To request asylum you must first show up. You must be inside the U.S or at a port of entry to request asylum. The U.S. must grant refugee status to anyone with credible fear of persecution due to political opinion, race, religion, social group or national origin. The U.S. recognizes the right of asylum as specified by international and federal law.

Having babies is a fact of life. Central and South American countries often lack available (or even legal) birth control, abortion and maternity care. To fault the poor in these countries under these circumstances for lack of family planning indicates ignorance, racism or callous indifference.

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Charles Kohorst of Glendora has had enough of the migrant-bashing:

I have read with dismay as the L.A. Times has published letters that express cruelty toward immigrants. The gratuitously mean-spirited letters on Oct. 3 were too much.

One writer said that the migrants have brought their problems upon themselves, “of their own free will,” and another asserted that no one has the right to enter the U.S. Even this country is legally bound to allow individuals to apply for asylum. The last writer wondered why those who do not have a “satisfactory life” have the audacity to reproduce.

Is this what passes as informed discourse in Los Angeles these days? Does The Times feel a duty to offer its more circumspect readers a view of how cold and harsh some of our fellow citizens actually are?

Venice resident Mindy Taylor-Ross keeps her reply short:

These writers sit in the comfort of their homes and criticize poor, scared migrants who are forced to relocate far from home because of threats from criminals and crushing poverty. Good one!


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