Winter 2019 /Fire & Water/

Letter Box

Fire-Resistant Buildings

In all the tragedy and huge economic loss in the California fires, you should do a story in PCM about Sia (’65) and Aim (’64) Morhardt. They built a lovely hilltop home in Santa Barbara on the site of a previous home that was burned. They are both very artistic, and their home doesn’t look like you would expect.

There will be a big need to rebuild, so why not have fire-resistant buildings? According to scientific forecasts, fires in California will become stronger and more frequent. We learned in Pomona botany classes that much of the vegetation in SoCal is fire-maintained.

—Priscilla Sherwin Millen ’65
Waipahu, Hawaii

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you for the timely tip about the Morhardts and their home. Given the theme of this issue, we were very interested and followed up on it immediately. As a result, please check out the story, “How to Outsmart the Next Wildfire,” on page 44.


“Korematsu” in Context

The article in the Summer/Fall 2018 PCM titled “The Shadow of Korematsu” contains some important truths but lacks important context. I offer the following to better flesh out the discussion.

Let me begin with the Japanese incarceration during World War II. In 1941 the people   affected were predominantly U.S. citizens and legally here. There was no due process and the rule of law was greatly stretched, if not broken. The most evident and egregious of those violations was the confiscation of their property. The separation of families was exacerbated by a lack of facilities to house interned families. Later, when facilities such as Manzanar were established, families were interned together. There is no doubt that the internment of these citizens was greatly hurtful to them and their families and was also part of the price of war, as well as prejudice.

The recent separation of families at the border is a different matter. There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken and that the victims of our government’s failure to fix it are the migrants who come across the border illegally and the citizens of the U.S. who pay the costs associated with that failure. However, your article lacks important context. The Mexican cartels run everything on the Mexican side of the border, and nothing crosses without their knowledge and approval. Those who recently came to the border with children to cross illegally knew full well that they could expect to be separated from those children. And yet they chose to do so. You have to ask why. There are many reasons; desperation and the hope at least for a better life for their children have to be at the top of the list. However, one can’t ignore the influence of the cartels. It was and is in their interest to disrupt enforcement at the border and the politics within the U.S. involved with it.

The major difference between the situation in 1941 and the situation at our border today is that there is due process and rule of law today whereas there was not in 1941, and the detainees in 1941 were here legally and the migrants crossing illegally are not. It has always been the practice in the U.S. legal community for law enforcement to separate children from the custody of someone being legally detained. This was not a new policy created or implemented in the current border context. There is much in the law that doesn’t work well and that one can question. Nevertheless, it is the law, and until Congress changes it, law enforcement agencies are bound to and should enforce it.

Make no mistake that the immigration situation at our southern border is tragic and in crisis. But for your article to conclude that our immigration policies at the Mexican border today are “dictated by racism and violent separation of families” is a gross misstatement. Let’s be clear. Migrants crossing illegally into the U.S. are victims. They are victims of the Mexican government, the Mexican cartels and an ineffective U.S. Congress.

—Robert Maple ’69
Green Valley, Arizona


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