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Dispassionate conservatism
I read your article and I have to say, it really disturbed me ["Second-class Access," July 25]. While I am sympathetic to the individual plights of these people, especially the pregnant women, it nonetheless does not mitigate the fact that they are illegal aliens (i.e. criminals) who are now "feeding" off the U.S. welfare system. There are plenty of people who have gone through or are going through the legal process and what these illegals have done should be viewed as what they are--criminals. Making it even worse is the fact that now others are complicit in their illegal behavior: Doctors, county health workers etc.

My wife is foreign-born (Malaysia). We have spent close to a thousand dollars, filled out, literally, one inch high of paperwork and spent numerous hours waiting at INS offices for interviews. In retrospect, it would have been easier just to have crossed the border illegally and wait for the amnesty or guest-worker program to follow.

My wife works as a contractor for a large hi-tech company and you know what? She can't earn vacation days or sick days either, just like the illegals in your article and just like millions of Americans and PRs (permanent residents). Furthermore, in order for her to be able to stay, we had to prove she would not go on welfare. Doing so later could also result in her deportation. So, you will hopefully understand if my sympathy for these illegal aliens can only go so far.

I find it ridiculous for politicians to talk about reducing poverty and illiteracy rates while at the same time taking on countless numbers of illegal aliens. I firmly believe illegal aliens drive wages down artificially and that companies who hire them should be severly fined.

What other services could the county health officials in the article you wrote offer to poor Americans if they weren't swamped with illegals? Whether or not illegal aliens work hard, whether they are just trying to have a better life for their family, whether or not Americans will take those jobs they do is irrelevant. These people have violated one of our most basic laws. It does not bode well for their respect of our other laws (case in point: trying to offer bribes to falsify records). Criminals should not be rewarded. It is the central tenet upon which the entire judicial system is based. I do not care what color you are or where you are from; if you entered this country illegally I want you deported ASAP.

Casual inevitability
Although no one in Chapel Hill really wants to rehash the debates over Meadowmont, Lauren Wilcox's glib assertion [First Person, "Meacham's Wall," Aug. 1] that "traffic will be worse anyway" demands a reply. The fact is that traffic gets worse to a great extent because of explicit actions of developers and government. To paraphrase a popular film: If you don't build it they will not come. The land speculators and development profiteers like nothing more than for a usually insightful newspaper like The Independent to lend an air of casual inevitability to their activities and to the environmental, public health, and social consequences of their projects.

Meadowmont will add some 25,000 vehicle trips per day to the already clogged N.C. 54 corridor, making it one of the worst roads in the Triangle. The project's developer and the narrow majority of the Chapel Hill Town Council which voted its approval all knew this. They justified this project as a new-urbanist-style "transit-oriented development" (TOD) based on the still uncertain Triangle Transit stop on the site. They chose to ignore the fact that even if 20 percent of Meadowmont's traffic can be diverted to transit (an ambitious figure), the project still puts a whopping 20,000 more trips in and out of the area. Smart planning recognizes that for TOD to be effective it must be part of a comprehensive perspective that replaces sprawl with density. This was the case with Chapel Hill's Southern Village project which arose out of a small area planning process.

Finally, let me commend you for including an approving comment on Meadowmont from Chapel Hill mayoral candidate Lee Pavao. Pavao has in eight years on the Town Council been the developers' best friend, almost always granting their requests, and rarely raising a critical question. The Independent does well to remind Chapel Hillians of his point of view. An extreme perspective may be fine for one of eight Council members and so the voters rewarded Pavao with fourth-place finishes in his '93 and '97 Council races. This year, he may find that the citizens of Chapel Hill prefer a mayoral candidate who gives priority to the broader needs of the community and who is not quite so comfortable with the self-interested prerogatives of the wealthy.

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