To the Editor:

In an attempt to pit Local 35 African-American workers against immigrant workers, the xenophobic Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform is collecting signatures for a petition against UNITE HERE for its pro-immigrant work (“Workers urged to sign petition,” 10/26). The group, which declares on its Web site “Diversity … Perversity,” claims that immigrants are a drain on the economy and cost American jobs.

These claims are false.

Undocumented immigrants are not freeloaders. They pay sales taxes and property taxes (through their landlords or individually). Those with false documents, required by many employers, also pay federal, Social Security and state taxes. The 15,000-plus undocumented workers in New Haven buy many goods and services, supporting other workers and creating new jobs.

Even the conservative Alexis de Tocqueville Institution found that “the evidence suggests that immigrants create at least as many jobs as they take.” Mayor Bloomberg of New York testified to the Senate in July, 2006: “Although they broke the law by illegally crossing our borders or overstaying their visas, and our businesses broke the law by employing them, our city’s economy would be a shell of itself had they not, and it would collapse if they were deported. The same holds true for the nation.”

Full legalization is the only answer. Five years after the 1986 amnesty, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that wages in industries with many undocumented went up by an average of 15 percent. That’s why AFL-CIO and UNITE HERE work on legalization. The undocumented already work hard; let’s try not to make their lives a living hell, as well.

Khalil Iskarous

Oct. 25

Iskarous is a senior scientist at Haskins Laboratories at Yale.