Letters

It's the money; Birth pains

It's the money

As the wife of an immigrant, I am much more familiar with the bureaucracy and snail-like pace of the INS than I would like to be. I think there must not be any agency, public or private (with the possible exception of any long-distance provider), that has the power to infuriate more than the INS.

However, as deplorable as the INS can be with its bewildering regulations, interminable waiting periods, and infuriating lack of organization, I think Mr. [Joe] Pappalardo misses the mark in "The kids aren't all right" (June 1).

True, the INS is desperately in need of reform. True, these undocumented immigrants are missing out on higher education through no fault of their own. But let's throw caution to the wind for a moment and try a little logic, shall we? There's a little fact that Mr. Pappalardo deftly omits from his article that is widely known among college students: A college education is readily available to natives of other countries. Regardless of where they come from or reside, legally or illegally, there is virtually no immigration obstacle to overcome in order to obtain a student visa. An American education is available to anyone who is accepted by a university, regardless of their immigration status, provided that they apply as an international student.

Since we're not talking about the legality of these students entering American universities, let's focus on the real issue...money.

Because my husband initially came to the United States on a student visa, I am aware that, contrary to Mr. Pappalardo's comment that international tuition "dwarfs" the rates paid by Texas residents, international tuition is about the same as out-of-state tuition, and neither is astronomical. Mr. Pappalardo quotes Ms. Ana Yañez Correa as saying, "If these kids have been going to public schools for as long as they can remember...why should they be denied a university education?" The same question could be asked regarding the children growing up in South Oak Cliff, because those American children face the same basic issue--the lack of ability to afford an education. While it may be true that the students Mr. Pappalardo writes about cannot afford international tuition, I can sympathize only insofar as I sympathize with anyone who has ever had their hopes dashed because of a lack of money, immigration status notwithstanding.

The fact that these kids are missing out on an education they so much deserve is sad, but the burden of blame should be placed on their parents, not the INS. Instead of wishing on a star that the INS would suddenly cease to be "heartless and cold," somehow benevolently grant their children citizenship and offer them a free college education, perhaps these parents should have considered the cost and started college savings accounts for their children like the rest of us do.

Lenore Ludlow
Via e-mail

Birth pains

I was reunited with both my birth mother and birth father about two years ago. I went through the mutual-consent registry at the agency that had placed me in my adoptive home. However, despite ongoing contact with both my birth parents, I still cannot get my original birth certificate without a judge's consent ("Prying open the past," June 8).

This is not about people seeking reunion; this fight is about people, adults who happen to have been adopted, fighting to get the basic truths about our lives.

The State of Texas gives me an amended birth certificate. I know I am adopted; I always have. My adoption papers and my family affirm that. My birth certificate should reflect the true and correct facts of my birth, but it does not. It is a government-mandated work of fiction. Why should I have to beg a judge to give me the truth about my birth? Am I somehow less a human or less a citizen?

I'd also like to make the point that giving adoptees their true birth certificates does not end any privacy for birth parents. The general public cannot access birth certificates. Only the adoptees would be able to get copies of previously sealed certificates. In upholding the Tennessee open-records statute, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that parents do not have a right to privacy from their own children.

Pam Hannah
Austin

Lisa Singh's article was right on target. My dog has her original birth certificate, so do Cabbage Patch Dolls! Adoptees deserve theirs. It isn't a privilege, it is a right! I'd be very curious to know whether the Gladney Foundation was a campaign contributor to any or all of the Bushes.

Lisa, thank you for taking the time to bring this issue out in the open. You should check out the Mending Wall's Web site, which shows how many adoptees have died because they didn't have their own medical records. I wonder how many young men died in Vietnam needlessly because their birth date was altered by a year on the Amended Birth Certificate. Ditto for those who could use the money from Medicare, but their Amended Birth Certificate has been altered by a year backward. Is it going to take someone like Bush waking up one day to find out he is married to his sister to get these laws changed?

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