A recent letter writer chastises those who empathize with undocumented workers in the U.S. ("Heartlessness? These people are here illegally," Sept. 17). While attacking undocumented workers, he and others of like mind live in a country where consumers have traditionally benefited from reasonably priced produce, goods and services. Why? It's due in great part to the undocumented worker.

Self-righteous critics of "illegals" appear to be ignorant of an ugly side that has permeated employment practices throughout the history our country. Plantation owners made their fortunes on the backs of slaves; the auto industry, hospitality industry (hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc.), manufacturing, as well as agriculture, have continued these illicit and illegal practices while benefitting greatly from that cheap labor that is recruited (yes, recruited) at the border.

For generations, the U.S. has posted two "signs" at our southern border: "Keep out" and "Help wanted." The primary word that should be attributed to the immigration debate is not "illegal" but "hypocrisy." If you must use the word illegal, then include all those who are responsible, including our government, our employers and consumers. Blaming the poor undocumented worker is like blaming the victim for the crime.