A reader wrote in support of immigration, asking who would staff American industries, including meatpacking plants, without the availability of immigrants who came illegally [“What deportations would cost us,” Letters, Sept. 13]. I support a path to citizenship and think our country is strengthened by multiculturalism.

However, it was the availability of cheap, easily intimidated workers who were in this country illegally that allowed Cargill Inc. to break up unions when it consolidated the meatpacking industry in the Midwest. Jobs that paid $18 an hour with benefits in the 1980s overnight became jobs with no benefits that paid $6.50 an hour.

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We need to balance an open and welcoming immigration system with the responsibility to protect middle-class workers, including immigrants, from exploitation by greedy corporations.

Immigration policy shouldn’t be dividing us.

Cynthia Lovecchio, Glen Cove