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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

June 28, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Fear of deportation worries Forks immigrants

Posted by Letters editor

Need for ‘responsible immigration policy’

It is understandable the illegal immigrants in Forks are gripped by fear, as they should be [“Climate of fear grips Forks immigrants,” page one, June 27]. It is against our national immigration laws to be in the United States illegally, and those who are can be subject to deportation.

It is understandable that when 25 percent of a town is made up of illegal aliens, and most of whom most don’t speak English, that this causes all sorts of problems for the citizens, police, Forest Service and Border Patrol.

We need a “responsible national immigration policy,” an immigration policy that brings in legal immigrants that have the skills and education to benefit our economy, those who will assimilate and will be a benefit to our American culture. We don’t need a dozen or so foreign cultures that compete with our American culture.

It appears to me that we have imported more impoverished people into Forks. As reported in the article, they sometime live two families in a trailer home. They are taking the jobs of citizens and lowering wages. Meanwhile, citizen taxpayers pay for educating their children, for their health care, and government programs such as food stamps.

Why should a town in Washington state have to deal with this? Why not enforce the national immigration laws passed by our U.S. Congress that are already on the books?

— Paul B. Smith, Mercer Island

Harvesting endangers resources

The accidental death of a fleeing illegal immigrant is tragic. However, there are actually two stories here. One is the movement of illegal immigrants into the Forks area and their pursuit by Border Patrol agents. The other story is an industry often based on illegal “harvesting” of forest plants, berries and fungi.

Crisanta claims to have just stopped here at the end of the day, but harvesting is probably much more productive in the protected, illegal areas. Undoubtedly a lot goes on that Forest Service staff is unable to catch.

The fact that salal is a main stay of the international floral industry should give an idea of how extensive this harvesting is. I have purchased bouquets myself that have salal in them, and wondered if it were grown or just collected. Salal stays beautiful and green for a long time in a bouquet, but then it is just thrown out.

These forest resources have taken hundreds of years to get established in the area. I can see these ecosystems being wiped out very quickly by people who are simply trying to earn some money, but may have little concern for the local flora. The regulations and meager staff that have been set up to monitor this industry are sorely inadequate. In the farmers markets, one often sees stands selling harvested items, such as mushrooms, berries, etc., and some of the same items in high-end supermarkets.

My worry is that the majority of these items may not be harvested legally. This activity endangers the vitality some of the Northwest’s greatest resources of our forests and tidal areas.

— Elizabeth Erickson, Seattle

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