Voting should precede citizenship

I am writing with regard to the article about immigrant voting rights (“Non-citizen Portland residents seek right to vote,” Feb. 12).

The article states that getting citizenship can take 10 years because that’s how long it takes to master the English language.

As an immigration attorney, I know that even if an immigrant already knows the English language, getting through the steps required by Immigration Services to even be eligible for the citizenship process can easily take 10 years and cost thousands of dollars.

The actual naturalization process generally takes about six months. But before that, you need to be a legal permanent resident for at least three to five years (three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, five if you’re not).

The application process for becoming a legal permanent resident takes at least five months. And before becoming a legal permanent resident, you need to get a visa to get immigrant status.

For example, the national average waiting time for a sibling of a U.S. citizen to get a visa is more than four years. For cases that the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services refers to the Immigration Court in Boston, we’re typically waiting at least one year to go to trial.

In the meantime, whether people are here legally or not, they pay taxes, whether income, property, sales, etc. – taxation without representation. In fact, immigrants who aren’t here legally help Social Security taxes even more because they will never collect benefits from the billions of dollars they pay into that system every year.

Susan Hopkins
Portland

An unavoidable conclusion: GOP in very sorry state

If the very best that the Republican Party can do is Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, it is in deep trouble. How come our Republican U.S. senators, who claim to be independent/moderate Republicans, vote with their party almost 90 percent of the time?

Ron Coles
Alfred

MaineCare recipients need the state to step up

Maine people are counting on our Legislature to find reasonable ways to balance the state budget. Maine- Care participants have taken many cuts over the past few years, and we just can’t take any more.

The slow economy hits us even harder, and now with more people losing their jobs, there are more people in need of help.

Many of the proposed cuts are for benefits that help Mainers who are in the most need and have the least ability to cope in any other way – the elderly, people with disabilities or mental illness, the sick and people with very low incomes.

Cutting services to these people causes greater problems for them and shifts the cost to others, like hospital emergency rooms, jails, homeless shelters, food pantries and schools.

These cuts must be stopped. Share the burden and raise revenue. We can trim back only so far. We need a way to plug the holes in the deficit that come up each legislative session.

Let’s raise the state sales tax temporarily. It was done before during a recession, and it worked. How about a higher tax on nonessentials like cigarettes, alcohol and soda?

A few pennies spread across the whole population decreases the burden on any one group.

Maine people are good and understand the need to help each other out. Stop the cuts on the poor and raise revenue.

Nikki McLean
Portland

Dependence on fossil fuels increases likelihood of war

Our current dependence on fossil fuels, particularly foreign oil, makes the United States vulnerable. I find that unacceptable, and so should you.

Americans spends $1 billion per day on crude oil from other countries. By purchasing oil from unfriendly and unstable countries, the United States is “funding both sides of the war” against extremism, according to former CIA director R. James Woolsey.

It is dangerous to depend on unfriendly nations for the resources we need to defend America. We’re allowing unstable and unfriendly nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to undermine our economic security. We need to stand strong on our own, not be dependent and vulnerable to the whims of unfriendly countries.

Taking control of our future with clean energy legislation means putting America back in charge. As Gen. Wesley Clark stated, “We either face up to the problem of global warming or use the military to deal with the consequences later.”

There are bills moving through Congress that will decrease our oil dependence, increase our national security, improve air quality and create millions of clean energy jobs here in Maine and across America.

Contact Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins today and tell them that you support national security through clean American power.

Chuck Tyler
Army combat veteran
Portland

Who’s watching watchdog during FairPoint fiasco?

This is in reference to the state’s public advocate receiving authorization to hire attorneys to monitor FairPoint’s bankruptcy case, or, should I say, the fleecing of Maine telephone users (“Extra lawyer OK’d for FairPoint bankruptcy,” Feb. 4).

We pay our telephone bill for services that allow us to make and receive calls.

We pay taxes to support the state’s Public Utilities Commission to monitor the utility companies and ensure that Maine people are getting what they are paying for and that they are paying a fair price.

We pay taxes for the judicial system that is managing the reorganization of debt structure of FairPoint. The article I am referring to states that the public advocate is being awarded $100,000 to hire attorneys to ensure that the public is being represented properly. FairPoint will be required to pay most of the bill.

So in summary, additional taxes and fees will be levied (3 percent) to anyone using a telephone in the state to ensure that our judicial system works, the Public Utility Commission does the job it is paid to do and the Public Advocate’s Office is funded to ensure that all of the above do their jobs.

Does anyone see who is going to end up with most of the money?

I think I should be hired to watch over the public advocate’s attorneys. The only real question left is who is going to watch over me?

Timothy Hiltz
Falmouth