There have been a number of incidents lately that point out what a melting pot we are. The most recent one that comes to mind is the case of the woman who wanted to have her driver's license picture taken wearing a chador. (I believe that's what it's called. Forgive me if I've erred.) In case you missed the decision, she did NOT win her case, and must show her face if she wants the license.
I mention that situation because it is an example of a change in the expectations of those who wish to emigrate to the United States. At one time, immigrants rushed to find a way to fit into society here. They pushed their children to do well in school, found entry level jobs and worked their way up. And in the process, they learned English so they could read the newspapers and understand the laws.
Now, I'm finding that people are moving to the United States and trying to make us over into the image of the country they have left, with freedom. It concerns me terribly that there is less effort to learn English these days. Newcomers move into an area where friends and relatives have settled, and they learn the ropes from someone who has been here for a bit, but they resist learning the language.
I'm concerned for several reason. First, it's easy to take advantage of those who don't know English. If you can't read English, you can't go on-line or to the library to learn about things like Social Security cards. I'm sure I know people who have been sold a card that is free to all. It is much easier to prey on someone who can't read the news, or learn the laws, or understand the political system in our country.
Second, those who live here without mastering English, are relegated to the most menial of jobs, at the lowest pay levels. I don't want you to misunderstand; there's nothing wrong with low paying jobs, but one of the things that draws people to us is the opportunity for an improved standard of living. Why would you go through the hardship of relocating, and not do everything you can to find a job that you enjoy?
Which brings me to the thought that when you choose to live in America, you need to embrace all aspects of American life. We have been called a "melting pot." I've always thought our strength lies in our ability to take the best of each culture and blend it into the mix that is uniquely American. We need our new citizens to participate in government so that they are represented. We need their influence on our arts and customs. If they are bound by lack of language into a ghetto, they fail to grow and nurture the whole.
And, in times like these, where we fear for our safety, we need to know that those who live here will work toward the goal of national safety; that they will support the choices our government makes, or work to change those choices through acceptable channels. We've come to a time when we need to be united, and unfamiliarity with English prevents that unity.
The federal government spends incredible amounts to provide tax information in dozens of languages. I'd rather they provided classes in English. Some states, California comes to mind, are requiring their schools to be bi-lingual. I think the students would make faster progress if the schools focused on English. There should be classes for immigrants to learn English, but the students need to be mainstreamed as quickly as possible into classes where English is the only language spoken. Stop encouraging activities that divide us!
This may seem like a tough stand, but it's been proven to work. If you read about immigration in the 1800's you'll find that those people didn't expect a handout. They knew it would be difficult, and they waded in and eagerly assimilated. I think we need to encourage everyone who lives within our borders to embrace ENGLISH!