Letters Farai Chideya reads listener e-mails and other messages about recent reports heard on the show.

Letters

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ED GORDON, host:

Every Thursday we give you a voice on the show. NPR's Farai Chideya has some of your feedback and comments about the program.

FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:

The debate over immigration generated a number of responses from our listeners. Akua Speeks(ph) of Ohio has problems with the way the debate has been framed thus far. She writes, “I am sick and tired of hearing people say illegal immigrants are only taking jobs that blacks won't take. Employers don't want to pay minimum wage and/or benefits and oftentimes blacks can't get hired. A young man I know got in a fight, was convicted of a felony, did his time, went to college, graduated with a 3.8 GPA and the best job he can get is cleaning buildings for $120 a week. Hotels and construction sites will employ illegal immigrants, but won't hire him. It's often a little more than what is on the surface.”

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CHIDEYA: Robert Wells of Detroit, Michigan, also e-mailed us and thinks our coverage of the issue has been off the mark. The real issue, he writes, is one of law enforcement. “I must say, the NEWS AND NOTES program and its coverage of the illegal immigration issue has completely missed the point,” he writes. “Earl Ofari Hutchinson, and others on your show, have framed illegal immigration as a concern to black Americans, because illegals are competing with blacks for jobs and/or other resources. Although the resource issue is real, the illegal immigration issue is far more basic than that.

The fact that people, whether they be Hispanic or not, have willingly and knowingly crossed America's borders illegally is the issue. Breaking the laws of this nation is not a civil rights issue or a human rights issue: It is a law enforcement issue. I think it insults the civil rights legacy to frame illegal immigration as a civil or human rights issue. And I feel it reasonable to believe that black Americans see this issue for what it really is.”

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CHIDEYA: The recent controversy over Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's run in with a Capitol Hill police officer prompted Washington, D.C., resident, Walt Miller, to write to us.

“Representative McKinney was not displaying the proper credentials. The guard may not have known her. The guard may have been new or he may have been an FBI reject. If he attempts to stop an unidentified woman, without the proper credentials displayed as required, he is doing the job, not assaulting a VIP. Ms. McKinney has made a career out of her angry black woman persona, does that give her the right to physically strike the guard? How much of her self-righteous indignation is ego driven? As in that age-old question, do you know who I am?

While it might be ideal that the guards know all of the members and their key staffers by sight, I doubt if that is a job requisite. That is why there is an ID procedure in place.” He ends, “There are hundreds of issues that deserve scrutiny from a racial perspective, turning Representative McKinney's lapse in judgment into a racial incident is a waste of assets.”

We spoke with Congresswoman McKinney on the show this week, you can hear that interview and her take on the story at our Web site, NPR.org.

We appreciate all of your comments, good or bad. We want to hear from you, so please keep your responses coming. You can call us at 202-408-3330; that's 202-408-3330. Or you can e-mail us. Log on to NPR.ORG and click on contact us, and please be sure to tell us where you're writing from and how to pronounce your name.

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GORDON: That was NPR's Farai Chideya.

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