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Tell the whole population story

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Dear HCN:

Thanks for the excellent issue on growth in the West (HCN, 9/5/94). In his essay, Dick Lamm fails to divulge the underlying cause of the population growth and immigration: poverty.

It seems that Lamm advocates closing the borders to immigration. Although our borders are lined with 10-foot fences and armed guards and bodies of water, thousands still flood in. Why would people risk their lives to enter the U.S. illegally and work seasonally picking fruit or making beds for a couple bucks an hour?

Just as population growth should not be addressed without respect to poverty and access to health care and liberation of women, immigration should not be discussed without regard to U.S. policies of neo-colonialism. In order that we may have bananas yearlong and supply our addiction to coffee and sugar, our economic polices have greatly contributed to the impoverishment of the Third World.

Free trade, such as NAFTA and GATT, greatly accelerates a situation where it becomes more profitable to grow export crops instead of food. Cheap food-imports from the North undercut locally produced food, further increasing dependence upon foreign markets. Thus the campesinos abandon their land, or are often forced off. Unable to find work in the cities, they soon head north, becoming a new wave of GATT immigrants. You can't plug the faucet with one hand while turning it up with the other.

Is Lamm the same former governor who seeks to extract water from the sparsely inhabitated San Luis Valley at the expense of its Hispanic residents to supply a burgeoning metropolitan area?

Greg Gordon

Cascade, Montana

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