LABJ FORUM - Immigrant Status

In proposing to give working illegal immigrants temporary legal status, President Bush argued it was "the right thing for America to do." At a joint press conference with Mexico's President Vicente Fox, the president also acknowledged that, "Yes, there's politics involved." Immigration legal and otherwise plays an outsized role in L.A., so a final determination about the status of these workers will have a significant impact here. So the Business Journal asks:

Do you favor granting temporary legal status for working immigrants?

Jim Lynch
Chief Executive
Century City Chamber of Commerce

> In California it makes lot of good business sense. There are a lot of jobs that immigrants have been performing that our indigenous population doesn't seem to be applying for, but they're jobs that need to be done. I realize it has been a source of discontent for immigrants because of the temporary nature of it. It certainly is something I think would be an enhancement to our homeland security to have people documented and keep track of who is here lawfully. I also think it's good for the immigrants as individuals if they can work here legally.

Elif Keles
Law Offices of Carl Shusterman

I came here at the age of two. My parents came here legally from Istanbul, with a green card back in the '60s when it was much easier and faster to get sponsored by a company if you had a job. But I do understand the critics. They say it's rewarding people who break immigration law. I do favor the temporary status for the immigrants that want it, but they all should know it's not a permanent program, and their employers can fire them if they want, which would probably get them deported.

John Coleman
Certified Public Accountant
John Coleman, CPA

Yes, but I'm not really happy with this measure because I think it doesn't solve the problem. It is just something that Bush is doing to get re-elected and get the Latino vote. What he really should do is grant amnesty to all the illegal workers, because in three years they are not going to go back to Mexico. They are going to go back to the same precarious situation that they are living in now, which must be terrible. And besides, we need the labor.

Dan Lambert
Administrative Coordinator
Resource Collection Inc.

I don't. Taking illegal immigrants and granting them temporary legal status would cause more problems, not only with regard to security but in overburdening the infrastructure of the state. There would be overcrowding in hospitals, in emergency rooms, on roads and there are only so many jobs. We really don't need to take on the economic problems of another country.

Giuseppe Mollica
Maitre d'

Let's put it this way: If they're illegal, they shouldn't be allowed. But since they are already here, they should be legal so they pay taxes and we know who they are. It makes more sense. If they're working and doing the job, they should be legal.

Haifaa Moammar
Director, Government League of Women Voters
Santa Monica

I think it's a whitewash. It's three years too late. Wasn't he trying to do this when he was elected? Then 9/11 happened and he became anti-immigrant. But that was part of his platform to get elected. It's basically to get re-elected.

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