Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Letters to the Editor

Immigration Threatens California

I cannot let the commentary on immigration ethics and policy ["Immigration: Is Exclusion Just?" by Manuel Velasquez, Spring 1996] go unaddressed. As a demographer and second-generation Californian, I have found myself professionally enmeshed in this area as an offshoot of my interest in environmental protection and sustainability and a commitment to a certain quality of life for this and successive generations.

Such prominent ecologists as David Pimentel of Cornell University and Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University argue that the maximum sustainable population for the United States is 150 million and for California, 10 million — levels last seen in 1950.

Births in a low-mortality, stationary population of 10 million would be about 140,000 a year. In 1970, California had 360,000 births — 325,000 to native-born women. In 1992, it had 600,000 births — 334,000 to native-born women and 161,000 to Mexican-born women. Half the latter had not gone beyond grade school, which (according to a large number of well-designed studies) presages low educational achievement for their children, the antithesis of the requirements of a postindustrial society.

Within a few years, as the baby boomers complete childbearing, the sole source of U.S. population growth will be post-1970 immigrants and, demographically more important, their offspring. Given the vastly disproportionate resource consumption per American, I argue that reducing, not adding to, the U.S. population should be a prime concern for everyone in the world, including the citizens of third world countries.

B. Meredith Burke
Palo Alto, Calif.

Close the Back Door
I am writing as a descendant of legal immigrants and the husband of a woman whose parents were legal immigrants from Ireland. I do not oppose immigration; I am a product of it. But it is important to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, which Velasquez fails to do.

Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, former president of the University of Notre Dame, was a member of a national commission to reform U.S. immigration policy. He said the United States must "close the back door" to illegal immigration if it wants to keep the "front door" open to legal immigrants. Over the years, this country has developed what is probably the most generous, compassionate, and humane immigration policy of any major nation. Martin Cook's quotation ["Martin Cook Replies," Spring 1996] that the United States is a "nation with the soul of a church" is to the point.

But even churches require their members to conform to certain beliefs and rules to remain in good standing. There is every justification for nations to expect the same of immigrants.

Watt B. Clinch
Roseville, Calif.

Is Defense of Wife Abuser Ethical?
Living in Los Angeles, I noted Gerald Uelmen's article ["The Five Hardest Lessons of the O.J. Trial," Winter 1996] with more than passing interest. Let me be honest by stating at the beginning that, whether it is right or wrong, I believe Simpson is responsible for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Thus, my reactions to the article and to Uelmen as part of the defense team are certainly colored by my prejudice in this matter and my judgment.

As Uelmen states, this is an occasion to reflect on lessons to be learned. One lesson for Uelmen and Santa Clara University regards the appropriateness of his involvement, and thus SCU's, in the whole sordid affair, which did far more to feed racial tensions in this city than any other event in the past two years. What this trial and the defense team did to the service of justice, to the commonweal's racial tensions, and to the public perception of fair trial verdicts cannot even begin to be addressed in as limited a frame as this letter.

The mission of the Ethics Center is, indeed, crucial in this day and age, when so many matters of ethical concern are the victims of media spin. Ethical education and reflection are, indeed, needed, beginning with some reflection on whether one does decent service to the institutions one represents when one chooses freely to defend a client known to be a batterer and abusive.

Reflection on what contributes to domestic violence should be undertaken. Reflection on how women are abused and battered needs to be pursued. Reflection on how the jurisprudence and police systems deal with these problems and exacerbate them is also needed.

It is unfortunate the University did not just let the matter end with the trial. Your decision to publish on it only diminishes the public image of a great school, which looks neither so great nor so decent in this.

Robert T. Walsh, S.J.
Principal, Loyola High School
Los Angeles, Calif.

Uelmen Piece Thought-Provoking
I want to commend Issues in Ethics and Gerald Uelmen on the article dealing with the O.J. trial. Unfortunately, the thoughtful (and thought-provoking) piece will probably be lost in the hoopla still surrounding O.J. and the trial.

I took a number of ethics courses while at SCU and have felt a void since leaving. It is extremely difficult to find thoughtful analyses of ethical issues in the everyday world. Thanks for helping fill the void.

William A. Thorne Jr.
Judge, Third Judicial District Court
Salt Lake City, Utah

A Perfect Resource
I received two issues of Issues in Ethics and quickly read them. I graduated from Santa Clara University in 1991 and miss the academic environment of the University. Moral and ethical questions, unfortunately, do not seem any easier to resolve upon graduation, and a forum to discuss current issues is no longer easy to find.

This is a perfect resource. My only wish is that the articles were longer and more in depth.

Jeffrey Fara
Newark, Calif.