To the Editor:
I have just finished reading the editorial “Exploitation? Let me count the ways” in the September 29 edition of the Times, and I am moved to write my first-ever letter to the editor.
Mr. Cabral makes some valid observations but I feel it is grossly unfair to cover all of us with the stain of exploitation simply for coexisting here on the Island with an increasing number of immigrants, documented or otherwise. I have no better idea than anyone else what the true story is in the Edgartown case, but I do know that these days it is almost impossible for any home repair or improvement project, large or small, to be done without having immigrant workers on the job. Most contractors I know, unless they work alone, hire immigrants, chiefly Brazilians, because they are plentiful and they are good and willing workers. Yes, they probably work for a lower hourly wage, but isn’t it only logical to pay less for a worker who is inexperienced and probably doesn’t understand much English? Consider the alternatives: (a) don’t give undocumented aliens a job and let them starve, or (b), report them to the INS for deportation. I certainly wouldn’t call hiring them exploitation.
U.S. immigration policy is a disgrace. It needs to be overhauled to deal with the realities of the 21st century as well as our present national, state, and local fiscal situation. But it is a federal morass, and it must be dealt with on the federal level. We in the Island community are generally a pretty liberal and openminded lot, and I believe we would welcome a new, fair and comprehensive immigration law if and when it ever comes to pass. Meanwhile, the great majority of us will do our best to welcome — and do business with — all our new residents, wherever they’re from, and whatever papers they carry. After all, nearly all of us were washashores at some point.
Nancy Le Blanc