English is language of opportunity

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Jan 21 14:21:06 UTC 2008


Article published Jan 20, 2008
Charles Davenport Jr.: English is language of opportunity

"There is no better tool with which to equip immigrants to the United
States than English. English-language proficiency remains the most
practical and indispensable skill for newcomers, and it is the
government's best tool to promote social harmony and cohesion."

-- Washington Times editorial board, Oct. 8, 2007

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission differs with not only the
editors of The Washington Times, but also with the 80 percent of
Americans who believe English should be our official language. The
EEOC, an agency of the federal government, filed a lawsuit last year
against the Salvation Army in Framingham, Mass., which fired two
employees who refused to speak English on the job. The aggrieved
workers, Dolores Escobor and Maria del Carmen Perdomo, were given a
year to comply with the Salvation Army's English-only policy but
refused to do so. The immigration status of Escobor and Perdomo is

Here we have a microcosm of the national debate on immigration, which
is playing a significant role in presidential politics. The lawsuit
illustrates the consequences of decades of failed immigration policy,
open borders and a reckless abandonment of the assimilation ethic. On
immigration, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress have
failed the American people in spectacular fashion.

The EEOC is using taxpayer money -- your money and mine -- to sue,
possibly on behalf of two illegal aliens, a private, faith-based
agency that has relieved the suffering of millions worldwide. The
alleged "wall of separation" between church and state is easily
scalable when it suits the purposes of civil rights activists and
liberal do-gooders, who, in this instance, condone the government's
bullying of a poverty-relief organization. In the enlightened
progressive mind, political correctness trumps the needs of poor

The EEOC's lawsuit claims that the Salvation Army's English-only
policy has caused Escobor and Perdomo "emotional pain, humiliation and
embarrassment." But, was the source of emotional pain the
aforementioned policy or the workers' refusal to comply?
Clearly, the latter. In fact, according to a study by Educational
Testing Services, immigrants fluent in English make about $40,700 a
year; newcomers who do not speak English make approximately $16,300.
English has been called "the language of opportunity" for good reason.
Learning to speak English is economically beneficial to immigrants,
but equally important, it is also a show of good faith to the
native-born -- an indication that the newcomer is interested in
becoming "Americanized," in acknowledging both the rights and
responsibilities of citizenship.

Unfortunately, the number of people in the United States who do not
speak English at all has soared -- from 1.22 million in 1980 to 3.37
million in 2000. That figure has almost certainly increased in the
last few years, as immigration has continued unabated while our
devotion to diversity has lowered our expectations of newcomers.
Complicating matters is the fact that Mexican immigrants, of which the
recent wave has been disproportionately comprised, are slower to learn
English and assimilate than are immigrants of most other
nationalities. Contrary to the assertions of many pro-immigration
activists, there is nothing insensitive or mean-spirited about
expecting newcomers to assimilate. Last month on this page, Robert
Seltzer of the San Antonio Express-News opined that "the Pat Buchanans
and Tom Tancredos of the world cling to the notion that immigrants
refuse to assimilate" in part, because "it is easier to demonize a
group than it is to understand them."

That Mexican immigrants are slower to assimilate is not a "notion" but
a demonstrable fact. They learn English and naturalize (become
citizens) at dramatically lower rates than do newcomers of virtually
any other nationality. John J. Miller's "The Unmaking of Americans"
provides ample evidence of this as does Peter Brimelow's classic
"Alien Nation." The "notion" Seltzer ridicules is also verified by
current statistics from the Center for Immigration Studies
(www.cis.org). Like most Americans, Buchanan and Tancredo understand
the recent wave of immigration -- and its consequences -- quite well.

In the current (December/January) issue of The American Spectator,
Myron Magnet writes about a change of heart on mass immigration (from
pro to con) at City Journal, the publication he used to edit, because
of recent trends. The reporters Magnet sent into a heavily Hispanic
neighborhood in Manhattan to research the "magic Americanizing
machine" returned with dreadful news, economic and cultural, familiar
to most of us. Among the many grim findings was the fact that teachers
were instructing immigrants in Spanish so they would not "lose their
cultural heritage." On the other hand, English is part of the cultural
heritage of the native-born, and there is nothing xenophobic or racist
about preventing its dilution.

Charles Davenport Jr. (www.cdavenportjr.com) (daisha99 at msn.com) is a
freelance columnist who appears alternate Sundays in the News &


Copyright (c) 2008 The News & Record and Landmark Communications, Inc.

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