Kudos for ‘Ghost Workers’

Thank you for a marvelously sensitive beginning of your four-part series on immigrant workers, November 1-7 of this year.
My congratulations to your staff, especially your reporters, Pete Davis, Noah Rosenberg, Christina Santucci, Damian Ghigliotty and Joe Hirsch for their particularly warm accounts of often very painful human stories; as well as to Lou Parajos and Stephen Reina; and to Christina Santucci likewise for her photography.
Then your editorial on page 16 puzzled me. As the immigrants themselves said, an immigrant would have to be crazy to present a passport that identifies him or her as undocumented. They would be too scared or paranoid to even think of using it, particularly in certain, more sensitive, locations. Yet you approved Governor Eliot Spitzer’s latest version of his driver’s license proposal.
But, again, thanks and congratulations for those wonderful personal accounts.
Reverend Alfred R. Guthrie
St. Fidelis R.C. Church
College Point

Editor’s Note: What we approved of was that Governor Spitzer dropped his plan to grant all immigrants full-unrestricted photo bearing driver’s licenses that would meet the federal Real ID security requirements. As we stated, undocumented immigrants should not have photo licenses at all.

Help minimum wage workers
I sympathize with the Ghost Workers and their families. However, you state Shon, 22, pays $500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Elmhurst and sends $700 to $800 a month to his family in Ecuador. This does not include his monthly fee to the “coyote” nor his own personal expenses - $1,300 a month without the coyote and without personal expenses.
Let me enlighten you on behalf of the young and old legal residents of New York. If they find a job for $7.50 an hour, for 40 hours, they would receive $300 a week, which would be considerably reduced by taxes and other withholdings.
These workers must work in a competitive workforce, having to conform to work hours, rules, regulations, drug testing, background checks, taxes, etc. $1,200 a month before taxes and expenses required to travel back and forth to work.
Employers who “hire” illegal immigrants do the public a great disservice. This practice only benefits the “employer.” He or she is allowed to pay whatever the market allows without concern for taxes, health benefits or employee safety.
The “Ghost Workers” average more than $300 a week and more than $1,300 a month. They do not have to adhere to any rules or regulations. They work when they choose. They deprive our young people legally working here of many job opportunities.
I think you should turn your journalistic expertise on our legal minimum wage workforce and what can be done to make their lives better.
I do not know the solution, but I know first hand that our legal workforce, working at minimum wage cannot make ends meet.
At the same time, a “blind eye” mentality exists in regards to the employers who continue to employ illegal immigrants. These employers rob our country of jobs and taxes as they undermine the social security system and the welfare of our people.
Geri Cicero

Rally for Pakistani lawyers
It is a good thing that lawyers in New York demonstrated against the arrests of lawyers in Pakistan by a dictator, General Musharraf. However, the Bar Associations, including my own - The Association of the Bar of the City of New York and its President Barry Kamins, should have known better.
They should demonstrate against the State Department, the Administration and before our Congress in Washington D.C. For during the last 60 years, they have maintained, encouraged, nurtured and fully financed the military junta in Pakistan to keep Pakistani people and movements for democracy chained by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its generals. Whenever there was a military coup, our government silently watched, as if it was a movie.
When you fertilize and water a poisonous military tree with billions of dollars, and corrupt Pakistani dictators keep destroying vital institutions, are we complaining against ourselves? Pakistani military has not only kept judiciary - including judges of the Supreme Court - in their pockets, but even duly elected Prime Ministers, with our help.
Under the circumstances, such demonstrations just look childish.
Chandrakant Pancholi
Jackson Heights

Counting on the FAA
Are all airline travelers first-class idiots? The Port Authority (PA) along with the airline industry believes we are. Rather than admitting they are unable to provide their customers any reasonable level of comfort and efficiency that a competent public agency or private corporation should be expected to provide them, they continually make justification and excuses that would shame a 12-year-old, glossing over forever-worsening flight delays and discomforts.
I only hope that the FAA will keep their promises to make more planes fly on time and that should include the FAA’s imposition of a flight-reduction plan, especially at JFK Airport. Furthermore, regardless of some community opposition, they should change flight-paths as they proposed earlier.
I have had it. I have already reduced my air-travel and I will continue to do so, until I learn of improvements. If more of us do so, we will get meaningful improvements, instead childish excuses, regardless.
Steven Rosner
Fresh Meadows

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