You have shown real courage in running a series of articles by Tom Horton. Horton is in a class by himself, having concluded in "Turning the Tide" that the Chesapeake Bay cannot be saved if its watershed population continues to grow at projected rates. (His conclusion was not endorsed by his publisher, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.)

Now you have gone a step further by introducing the word immigration. For decades now, virtually all national environmental leaders have refused to talk about population because they know this necessarily means talking about immigration. The Sierra Club has gone so far as to rule that immigration is not an environmental issue and therefore may not be discussed.

As the article points out, immigration does raise moral issues. When we were a country with an open frontier, we encouraged unlimited immigration and the country benefited greatly — except for Native Americans. After the closing of the frontier around the turn of the 20th century, we limited immigration and placed quotas by national origin in what we considered the national interest, without moral considerations, irrespective of the Emma Lazarus poem.

In recent decades we have come to see legal immigration in moral terms, as have Canada, Australia and Western European countries. Always this has involved limited numbers. We cannot offer a home to all foreigners who might see their lives improved by moving here.

The case for open borders would not convince many of us, regardless of our moral values. What to do with the 12 million illegals already here is a complicated question.

But there should be no disagreement that future immigration should be legal. How many and how they should be selected is what we should be discussing.

Armin Behr
Bethesda, MD