"Our families immigrated here legally and respect the laws, customs, rules and norms of this great nation.

And we expect everyone else to do the same."

 Editor's note: We received a raft of feedback regarding Kristen Hinman's March 1 feature, "Valley Park to Mexicans: ¡Hasta La Vista, Baby!" Many of the letters appear below. More comments can be found accompanying the story online at www.riverfronttimes.com.

Down in the Valley

A violation of the Fair Housing Act: Thank you for Kristen Hinman's story. The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council (EHOC) is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against the City of Valley Park because we believe that these anti-immigrant ordinances violate the federal Fair Housing Act. Indeed, your article gave us more evidence to prove our case.

The two situations Mayor Whitteaker credits with persuading him on the need to crack down against "illegal immigrants" relate to a Mexican family and Mexican workers — all apparently in the United States legally. The mayor's assumption that these individuals are "illegal immigrants" uncovers his anti-Hispanic bias. In fact, most Latinos in the U.S. are citizens. Any ordinance developed with the intention of keeping Mexicans out of Valley Park is a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.

A look at the organizations funding Valley Park's legal defense further reveals the deep-seated racism which is fueling this anti-immigrant agenda. On February 24, the mayor attended a fundraiser sponsored by the Minutemen, the Missouri Constitution Party, the John Birch Society and the League of Southern States, all of which are tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups or organizations with ties to hate groups. We at EHOC are proud to be standing with property owners who have demonstrated that they would rather risk stiff penalties than participate in discrimination. I hope that after reading this article, others in Valley Park will have the courage to stand up and insist that their city change course.
Mira Tanna, assistant director, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council

Hinman missed the point: Kristen Hinman provides an interesting snapshot of some people who may have less-than-perfect motives in opposing illegal immigration. But the story makes light of something that is of concern to many who are not rednecks or bigots: our total failure to control illegal immigration and the impact this can have on our communities.

Such a law isn't being proposed in Ferguson, where I live. But I looked at a house for sale a few months ago and was shocked to find that the inside of the cute little home was absolutely destroyed. A neighbor told me that the house had been inhabited by about fifteen Mexicans, in violation of Ferguson's municipal occupancy code. I'm not sure why they eventually left, but the house was in foreclosure. Had this happened next door to me, I'd have been furious. How about you?

The United States has a liberal immigration policy, allowing legal entry to people from all over the world. As a result, the percentage of Americans who are foreign-born stands at its highest point in more than half a century. I don't think it's unreasonable to demand that those who would come here do so in a lawful manner. And in the absence of a working federal policy to deal with illegal immigration, local governments will continue to find the need to act, just as they have in Valley Park.
Nick Kasoff, Ferguson

Destroying ourselves from within: For decades America's enemies have predicted that this nation would eventually be destroyed from pressures within as opposed to outside influences. Kristen Hinman's article underscores this prediction.

My wife, a legal immigrant, followed the rules many years ago to gain U.S. citizenship. They included a three-year waiting period, written and oral examinations on American history and government and a demonstrated ability to read and write English. If she could do it the right way, why can't the illegals follow her example? Accolades should go to Mayor Whitteaker, an avowed politician of liberal persuasions. The mayor has taken a strong stand against illegals despite the fact that survey after survey indicates that they would support his political party.
Richard H. Gerding, Concord Village

Dontspeakforme: Most mainstream Americans of Hispanic roots do not support illegal immigration or amnesty as a solution to the problem in our country. Our families immigrated legally and respect the laws, customs, rules and norms of this great nation and we expect everyone else to do the same.

Please see "You Don't Speak for Me," a national coalition of Hispanic Americans speaking out on illegal immigration, at www.dontspeakforme.org.
M. Davies, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Whitteaker's a redneck: Mayor Jeffrey Whitteaker of Valley Park is a racist redneck who probably loves the Ku Klux Klan! Judging from Kristen Hinman's article, Valley Park should be located in some redneck Alabama or Mississippi town. I can't believe that the governor of Missouri would allow one of his state's public officials to air his racist views to the media. I guess all of Whitteaker's ancestors were born in America, because he thinks that none of his family were immigrants.
Luis Martinez, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

Ashamed of where I live: I am a resident of Valley Park, although after reading Kristen Hinman's article I am embarrassed to say so. On a weekend trip home from college, all I want to do is turn around and go back. I am thoroughly disgusted by the comments of our mayor and fellow residents. They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves!

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