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May 19, 2006

Beyond the borders - another point in the illegal alien debate

Leave aside a moment the two top points of controlling illegal immigration - Secure the border and keep illegals from getting jobs (Biometric id cards, punish employers) and look at a point made by the President and almost over looked in the rhetoric that has ensued.


Linda Chavez says:

Hispanics are not only assimilating as each group before them has, but at a more rapid pace than many previous groups — but for the moment, I want to put those arguments aside and talk about the value of assimilation. Part of the reason so many people worry that Hispanics aren't assimilating is that we've quit emphasizing the importance of assimilation in our national dialogue.
As Ms. Chavez points out, we had as much skeptisism and, yes, nativism in greeting waves of immigrants in times past as we do today. But we demanded of the immigrants that they meet a certain standard of "Americanism".
Teachers taught children not only civics lessons, but how to dress like other Americans, and to adopt American standards of hygiene — something almost unthinkable in today's environment, where many teachers are more worried about damaging students' self-esteem than actually teaching them how to be successful.

And of course, learning English was a prerequisite, especially since the typical classroom of the era had 50 or more children speaking at least half a dozen different languages.

It is unrealistic to think we can just "roundup" and bus 12 million people, no matter how emotionally satisfying such a thought borne of sheer frustration has become. However, if we stem the flow of illegals with a secure border, dry up the incentive by stopping illegals from working, many will leave on their own. Others, those with long ties need to be brought into American culture and we then concentrate on assimilation.

All public school education in English.
Return to civics lessions in schools.
All voting material in English.
All official government business and documents in English.

As the President said

English is also the key to unlocking the opportunity of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery, from cleaning offices to running offices, from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, they renew our spirit, and they add to the unity of America.
We need to stop enabling primary Spanish speakers to remain separate from the mainstream. We need to sweep aside the soft-bigotry borne of collectivist, "group" identity. While some have pushed multiculturalism as "respect of The Other", many support it because it allows "The Other" to remain outside, easily identifiable and easily exploitable by those invested in the debate on what makes an "authentic" Hispanic, black, woman, etc.



Posted by Darleen at May 19, 2006 06:32 AM


But most immigrants do assimilate. They do it at their own pace however.

Sometimes takes a generation or so.

The Irish, Italians, eastern Europeans; they all took awhile to assimilate.

But they never left some of their old-country customs behind.

The Mexicans arn't any different.

Interesting how this English-only rhetoric is never heard, except when speaking of Mexican immigrants.

Posted by: Carl W. Goss at May 19, 2006 08:59 AM

My father's birth certificate was in German (in Indiana in 1917) after my parents had been in the United States for 37 and 27 years respectively. He went on to fight heroically in WWII and at D-Day in the European theatre and I, his son, am the conservative Republican you see hear today. English is good and should be the officail language of the United States, but let's not get too excited if our immigrants don't become fluent by tomorrow.

Posted by: Dave Kerber at May 19, 2006 11:39 AM


One can either expect assimilation and facilitate it my NOT coddling to foreign language in schools and government OR one can make it "easy" and have people not ever be functional in English..and thereby keeping them outside of the American mainstream... in otherwords keep a defacto apartheid system.

Studies in CA found out that bilingual "education", which was supposed to have children mainstreamed into English within five years was/is a dismal failure. Immersion works much better and faster.

My father was stationed in Japan with the occupation forces after WWII for two years. He spoke fluent Japanese by the time he got home.

So. Cal has large minority populations of Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Camobians, Tongans, Russians, and Armenians. Add Loatians, Thia, Iranians and others. So, how many of these groups should public schools cater to? At when catering, are we really helping these children?

There's many reason's why so many people from Asia are doing well in American public schools. They learn English much faster in English speaking classes than their Spanish-as-first-language peers in Spanish speaking classes.

Posted by: Darleen at May 19, 2006 12:33 PM

'except when speaking of Mexican immigrants' -- because we are teaching Mexicans/ Hispanics IN SPANISH. None of the other immigrants get that special treatment. They have the huge numbers.

Posted by: Bette Solomon at May 20, 2006 09:48 AM

As the daugher and grand daughter of immigrants I am right there with you on the English issues. Total immersion works and quickly. Bi-lingual is ridiculous.

This is not only about Spanish, I say this to all of my friends who are here from abroad. They must learn and master English. The Mexicans and other Spanish speaking immigrants have it much easier (or rather much harder) when they arrive here in LA, their language is spoken and written every where. My Czech au pair's family HAD to learn English because there is not that network of support for them. It's amazing to behold how quickly they learned English.

I am all about about people keeping their language and traditions, but not at the expense of assimilating.

Posted by: Mieke at May 20, 2006 10:45 AM