Friday, March 23, 2007

What About Legal Immigrants?

"Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

On my job, I often have to market to residents of Northern Virginia, an area that I refer to as "Immigrantville". That is because it seems there are more immigrants living there than natural born Americans.


I don't even know how to phrase that statement without appearing biased against immigrants.

I have nothing against immigrants, and by that I mean legal immigrants.

I am descended from immigrants. And unless you are 100% Native American, so are you.

My ancestors emigrated to America from Scotland in the late 1600's and settled, to begin with, in what is now North Carolina. Later, in the 1800's, my Great Great Grandfather, together with his brother, migrated west, at last settling in Missouri, while his brother continued on his way to California. That was the last my ancestor ever heard of his brother.

My boss brought up the fact that most immigrants are very hard working people, willing to take the lowest paying menial jobs to support their families. Jobs that most Americans won't do, like picking grapes and lettuce, etc. for three or four dollars an hour. They don't get benefits and they sometimes work over 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

I won't disagree with that assessment.

He obviously has no problem with immigrants, either legal or illegal. The one thing he expresses frustration with is that so many immigrants are allowed to procure customer service positions in banks and restaurants and retail stores, etc.

How are we supposed to get proper customer service from people with whom we can't communicate? We can't explain what we want from them, and they can't communicate what they need from us.

Why would companies even hire people for positions in which they have to interact with people who don't speak or understand their language? It's insane!

It is unfair of us to paint, with a broad brush, a picture of lazy immigrants that suck up our tax money by sponging off welfare and getting free health care without pointing out the enormous contributions other immigrants have made, and are continuing to make to our economy. There is no doubt that they have enriched our country in many ways.

My current problem with immigrants, both legal and illegal, is their tacit refusal to even try to learn our language. Call me ignorant and boorish if you want, but I find it frustrating and annoying that I can't communicate with half or more of northern Virginia.

And our own government is compounding the problem. Instead of insisting that immigrants learn English, they instead are spending millions of our tax dollars attempting to communicate with them in their language.

What's wrong with this picture?

I try to look at it as if I am the immigrant and they are the nationals. If I move to another country, I would like to know at least enough of their language to be able to communicate with them. For me, that's not only common sense, it's the best way I know to prevent me from being victimized in some way. How many times have we stood by while immigrants talked to each other in their own language and wondered if they were talking about or making fun of us?

OK. Maybe I'm just paranoid. But paranoia has kept me from being swindled for many years.

If President Bush, or the Democrats, or anyone else want to offer any form of amnesty to illegal immigrants, I suppose we can't stop them, but is it too much to ask them if they would at least include a provision that they learn English in order to stay in this country?

Is that unreasonable?

There are more than enough reasons to protect our borders against illegal immigration. But when are we going to deal with the problem of legal immigrants? This is our country. We shouldn't have to change our customs and learn new languages to accommodate them. They are our guests, here because we have given them the right to choose to live here. But doesn't that right come with some accountability?


Dan Trabue said...

Is it unreasonable? No. I don't think it's at all unreasonable to expect they would learn English. I don't want to legislate it, though. Big gov't, and all...

Is it unreasonable to provide assistance in multiple languages if it helps us in the long run?

No, I don't think that's unreasonable either.

Marshall Art said...

How does it help us in the long run, if they are still speaking a different language after receiving assistance? That's TOTALLY unreasonable. It's my understanding that kids learn languages better with total immersion rather than bi-lingually (if that's a word). It makes sense. But with adults, there's a different concern, and that is that why would they bother learning English if what they need to get by is printed in their own language? It doesn't help us at all. And it really doesn't help them either. They've separated themselves from the rest of the nation. This is supposed to be the Great Melting Pot, not the Great Tossed Salad. Learning the language of the host country is assimilating. Refusing to do so, or making it a minor concern, is self-segregation.

I also disagree that it would be a Big Gov't issue that learning the language would be required for citizenship. It ensures that the immigrant does indeed assimilate at least on a basic level. How can one feel a part if one can't communicate?

That being said, I wouldn't go so far as to say that legal immigrants are our guests. Since they are legal, they are fellow citizens. But being so, they need to prove they truly want to be by at least learning the language.

I also have a problem with Mark's boss's notion of immigrants doing the work the rest of us won't do. Perhaps most wouldn't do the job because they're only paying 3 or 4 dollars an hour w/o bennies. So they exploit the immigrants, legal or otherwise. I heard it said that some years ago when they were dealing with the illegal immigrant problem, the lack of workers led to new inventions that made harvesting whatever crop it was easier and faster. They may have illiminated the harvesting jobs, but they probably caused some manufacturer to hire people to make the harvesting machinery. Likely at a higher wage.

The point is that the hiring of immigrants in that manner doesn't help anyone as much as some may think. And providing documents and such in their native languages doesn't either, as it removes the incentive to learn English. Support English only legislation.

Lone Ranger said...

I've pretty much had to stop using drive-thrus. I've found that the chances of my order being messed up are greatly reduced if I go inside and point at the pictures. Failing that, they can at least read my lips. The irony is if you tried to exist in the countries these people came from without learning their language, employers would shun you.

Francis Lynn said...

Here's a site about making English the official language, etc.

Unlike days of old, assimilation is not a priority for immigrants & illegal aliens. There are mucho enclaves of Hispanics in this country where English is foreign, so to speak. We are becoming a Tower of Babel.

Although understanding English is a requirement for citizenship, ballots are printed in Spanish & other languages. A city in Calif had an election & ballots were printed in English, Spanish & Farsi. Farsi? Go figure.

Big government is already involved in this language issue. Federal law requires certain documents, etc, be printed in languages besides English. Mandatory ESL/bi-lingual education consumes mucho tax dollars. Government gives driver tests in languages other than English. I have yet to see a traffic sign that says "el stopo". Schools issue report cards in languages besides English. My town issues them in 5 languages. Local governments consume precious tax dollars for redundant forms, etc in multiple languages.

This country is quickly becoming Balkanized linguistically. Much of it due to the multi-culturalists & politically -correct freaks. In fact, they are doing a disservice to non-English speakers who will lag behind because our "sensitivities" allow them the easy way out by catering to their mother tongue.

The Bush/Congressional "pathway to citizenship", aka amnesty, will include a provision that they learn English in 5 years. But this cost of learning English will probably be at taxpayers expense & then there is the huge bureaucracy involved in running it.

Some towns have already passed ordinances making English the offical language of their towns & all forms & documents are required to be in English. Good for them.

I am getting tired of people coming to my offical & saying in barely recognizable English, "You speaks da Spanish." When I say no they act shocked, "No speaka da Spanish???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
No lady, this is America, not Peru or Mexico. They leave shaking their heads. The Chinese are the worse - they come in speaking Mandarin or Fukenese & I shrug my shoulders showing I don't understand & they keep talking like I know what their saying. I have to usher them out the door.

My job requires me to go to homes & it's amazing how many in town don't speak English. It's not just Spanish either. It's Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Mississippian & God knows what else. It's amazing I can do my job.

And legal immigrants are not citizens unless they have been naturalized. And illegal immigrants are not immigrants - they are trepassers who've broken US law.


Abouna said...

Dan Trabue: You said: "Is it unreasonable to provide assistance in multiple languages if it helps us in the long run?" The answer is yes it is unreasonable. Do you have any idea how much it costs States like California and others to print state and federal forms of all kinds in many different languages? It is a huge tax burden.

Mark, I have to disagree with you on one point and that is we CAN stop our elected officials from granting amnesty to every illegal that sneaks in. We can vote them out of office and elect someone that that will do what we the people want.

I for one would like the government to pass a law making English the official language. We cannot remain as a unified nation if every group coming here is allowed to speak their native tongue and never have to learn English.

All four of my sons were adopted from Southeast Asia. I made sure that they always remembered their native language and I encouraged them to speak it at home (Three speak Vietnamese and one speaks Laotian), but I made darn sure that they learned English in school. Today, they all speak perfect English with no accents and they still speak their native languages.
They thank me for making sure they learned English, because it has helped them in obtaining great jobs.

I have nothing against legal immigrants, but I do think that we should set limits there also, as to how many we allow. Just because business say that allowing unlimited numbers in because they are good for the their bottom line, is wrong because their bottom line is not good for the American workers who are losing jobs or being forced to work for lower and lower wages. I see this everyday where I live. Illegal immigrants and accepting large numbers of legal immigrants is having a bad effect on the American standard of living.

Jason H. Bowden said...

I'm with Dan on this.

America is pretty much like the Borg. You will be assimilated, and resistance is futile. My Grandmother once told me a story about how her grandmother only allowed German at the dinner table. Old ways die hard.

The United States has always been a chaos of different ethnic groups. We were much more Balkanized in the past. Few know that the Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote was the first newspaper in America to publish the Declaration of Independence. In 1860, there were 200 German language newspapers and magazines in the United States, a typical paper being the New York Staats Zeitung. At that time in St. Louis alone there were three major German language newspapers, and German **immigrants** were the majority Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. Where they were not the majority, Germans were still the largest ethnic group, as they were in Chicago.

Do we see anyone speaking German in the United States today? In the long run, every American gets assimilated. This has had an unnoted effect on the American style, especially in the north, where immigration has always been the norm. Decades of immigration has made the American style simple and direct to facilitate understanding, which seems almost impatient and rude to those in more rural parts of the country.

I'm even more skeptical of the neo-know nothings given the different groups that have married into may family-- the Salazar's, the Perez's, hell, one of my cousins married and had a child with a woman from Taiwan. And I've worked in the university with many talented people from India and China. I agree we need better control of our borders, but the suspicion of immigration among many is a bit misguided.

mudkitty said...

I challenge any of you descendants of immigrants to produce your grandparents, or great grandparents "Papers."


ANYONE who speaks two, or more, languages has a leg up in this world.

Marshall Art said...


Thanks for the irrelevant request. As Jason indicated, things were different in the past and immigration protocols most certainly were as well. It's true that mult-lingual folk have an advantage, or at least it's beneficial, but the point is about those who come here without learning the common language. Thus, that point is irrelevant, too.


The past is the past. Assimilation occurred as you've said, but don't you see a benefit for it to occur at a greater speed? Those foreigners with whom you work, do they speak their own languages only? They are communicating, so they're on board. The better they speak English, the better for the country. Also, remember that in the past, the gov didn't publish all it's stuff in every language. Those towns in Pennsylvania did so because they all spoke the same language. In order for them to deal with the rest of the country, they needed English. Eventually they changed because it was more practical to do so. Personally, I wish my mother had passed down the Polish language she was raised with, but I'm glad I speak English. I can get along with more people. So far anyway.

Mark said...

Recently, I posted an entry about the free or reduced price meals form I had to fill out when I enrolled my son in a new school. The form they gave me was printed completely in Spanish. Not one word of English on it anywhere!

Naturally, it was an mistake, but I wondered at the time how any student that didn't understand English was going to learn anything in any of his classes besides Spanish, of course.

Lone Ranger said...

America is supposed to be a melting pot, not a stew pot. There is a REASON this country is the greatest the world has ever seen. And the reason is that we have our own unique culture under which anyone can prosper if they follow the rules. We won't maintain our prosperity by following the rules of countries from which people flee.

German was spoken around our dinner table too, but it wasn't required. And we kids were FORBIDDEN to speak anything but English outside the home. I've lost the German I spoke as a kid and I don't care. My American heritage is much more important to me than my European heritage -- whatever that might have been.

mudkitty said...

Observed an d duly noted - no one here can produce their grandparents records.

Marie's Two Cents said...

My daughter-in-law arrived here straight from Germany (Legally) only one and a half years ago and she speak's better English than I do!

If she can do it with a heavy German accent anyone can.

mudkitty said...

Like I wrote, it's good to speak more than one language, regardless of where you come from or what color your eyes are, or skin is.

Anonymous said...

Ferme la bouche, Mudkitty, Sil vous plait...


mudkitty said...

And that's what passes for wit amongst some rightwingers...insults.

Anonymous said...


You really put ME into my place, didn'cha there, Mudkitty?

I don't HAVE to produce any of my Grandparents' paperwork.

I have my very own Birth Certificate which proves that I am a Citizen of the United States, and I can produce that whenever I need it.

You have not posted a relevant comment on this whole thread. You have only cluttered it up with nonsense. (Which, from reading your comments on other threads, seems to be your only talent.)

I did not insult you, I merely made a request and an observation.

If you had anything to add, then someone might take you seriously.

Now, PLEASE dazzle us all with more of your brilliance!

mudkitty said...

So like I wrote, none of you can produce your grandparents papers...hence, your birth is as much in question as any illegal's child, who, like you, was also born here.

Mark said...

Mudkitty, I fail to see how knowing or not knowing your Grandparents heritage has anything to do with my topic. I have already mentioned that my Great great grandfather was desended from Scottish immigrants. So what? He spoke English. He had to. Do you think the decendents of Swedes, and Germnans, and Spaniards, and Dutch, and Chinese, who were in this country at the time would have understood or spoke Gaelic?

Your argument is not an argument.

I am simply stating the obvious. people who can't speak or understand English cannot communicate with most Americans, and so, they are at a disadvantage. We Americans are at a disadvantage, too, when we are forced to have to deal with people who we can't communicate with.

I agree. It is a good thing to know other languages. It broadens our horizons. We concede that it would be a benefit to us to know other languages. But it shouldn't be a necessity to know 4 other languages just to communicate with people who live in America, but refuse to learn our language.

What gives foreigners the right to dictate how we communicate here in our own country? What gives them the right to demand we learn their language when they have absolutely no impetus to learn ours?

If Amercans moved to their country, you can bet they would insist we learn their language.

mudkitty said...

It's simple Mark. If you don't have your grandparents papers, than you can't prove they came here legally. What did you think I was referring to? Don't complicate the issue. Stay focused.

Mark said...

One of my Grandmothers had enough American Indian in her to qualify for free indian land in Oklahoma, but she didn't have the legal documentation.

So what?

Even if my ancestors did enter illegally, it doesn't mean I have to learn other languages just to communicate with immigrants in my own country.

Marshall Art said...

"If you don't have your grandparents papers, than you can't prove they came here legally. What did you think I was referring to? Don't complicate the issue. Stay focused."

The issue is immigrants learning our language. You're the one with focus problems.

But, just the same, why do we need to prove our grandparents came legally? What's your sure to be laughable point? MY grandmother died in the 1950's. Her husband long before when my mother was still a girl. My mother was born here in '26. Do you know the immigration procedures and protocols prior to '26? Are they the same as now? How easy would it have been for a Polish couple to enter the country illegally prior to '26? Easier, harder? What would it have taken for them to do so? Considering how far back it was that they arrived, could you, if you could start then, explain what the hell your point is?

mudkitty said...

Marshall, excuses, excuses.

BTW - how old was your grandmother, and how well did she speak English? Be honest?

Marshall Art said...

I was 3 or 4 when she died. She spoke no English, aside from a few words to get by. She was a scrub-woman. I remember her as old, hunched and shuffling. According to Ma, she and grandpa didn't ask for favors. It was their intention to be Americans. The only papers they had was the newspaper clippings describing the bullet-riddled bodies of the Port Authority officers who tried to prevent their entrance as they snuck in in the dead of night. Oh, it was a crazy time.

Actually, the subject of their immigration has never come up. I'll ask Ma the next time I see her. If she tells me something like I wrote, I'll shit my pants.

mudkitty said...

Now you're catching my drift, Marshall. Is it starting to dawn on you yet that todays "illegals" are tomorrows grandparents? Much as your grandparents were at the time.

mudkitty said...

Or do you consider the difference being an accident of birth that rendered them pale of skin, and blue eyed?

Mark said...

I just want legal immigrants, whatever their native nationality, to speak and undwerstand English. They should, because they are in my country which is an English speaking country, no matter what the politically correct immigrant appeasers say.

Marshall Art said...

No Muddy, I'm NOT catching your drift. It's got stuff dripping off it.

I didn't say my grandparents were illegal. I said the subject of their immigration has never come up, but I'll check it out. For your information, should I find out that they mailed themselves over in a manila envelope, it won't change my opinion on illegal invasions. But I doubt that's what I'll learn. I also doubt that over eighty years later that anyone of my mother's family that is still alive would have any clue as to the location or existence of immigration papers for my grandparents. Quite the moot issue now, but not shit's bit of diference regarding how things should be done now in the year of our Lord 2007.

Toad734 said...

"My current problem with immigrants, both legal and illegal, is their tacit refusal to even try to learn our language."

That’s funny; I know a lot of immigrants living in Chicago. Most of them are illegal and they all speak English; better than a lot of Americans even.

Also, if you have a problem with immigrants then you have a problem with capitalism. Your view of the lowest bidder wins, the cheapest product is the best, means that immigrants set the wages that businesses are willing to pay for jobs such as picking strawberries. If we were to enforce our laws and prosecute the people who hire illegal immigrants then those jobs would be jobs Americans wanted because they would pay $10 an hour instead of $3.

If there weren’t any jobs here they wouldn't have a reason to come here. Don't blame immigration on the immigrants; blame it on your exploitive money hungry, capitalist businesses who hire them.

So are you against corporations being able to be non-union and paying what ever the market will bare or are you for illegal immigration. They are not two separate issues.

Marshall Art said...


What's that got to do with immigrants not learning the language? It's nice you know illegals who speak the language well. I'm so happy for you. Why don't you call the authorities and turn them in?

Legal or otherwise, learn the freakin' language.

As to your off topic remarks, just to clear things up for you, lowest bids and cheapest products aren't the aim of the capitalist if the quality sucks. No one here has a problem with immigration as long as it's done within the parameters of immigration law.

"If there weren’t any jobs here they wouldn't have a reason to come here."

You'd prefer there were no jobs?

It seems you have a real hangup about capitalism. How do pinkos like you make a living in Chicago?