Let us say to the immigrant not that we hope he will learn English, but that he has got to learn it. Let the immigrant who does not learn it go back. He has got to consider the interest of the United States or he should not stay here. He must be made to see that his opportunities in this country depend upon his knowing English and observing American standards. The employer cannot be permitted to regard him only as an industrial asset.Those words from former President Roosevelt might sound shocking in today's politically correct world, but they are just as true now as they were then. Why do people want immigrants to become part of a permanent underclass? If you are against encouraging them to learn English, that's exactly what you are supporting. Michael pointed this out so well in his wonderful Lewiston Tribune column last week. If an immigrant learns English, then they may rise to a corporate boardroom. If they don't, they are doomed to be "industrial assets" or making beds at Motel 6. America has always been the land of opportunity. But the key to that opportunity is learning English.
We must in every way possible encourage the immigrant to rise, help him up, give him a chance to help himself. If we try to carry him he may well prove not well worth carrying. We must in turn insist upon his showing the same standard of fealty to this country and to join with us in raising the level of our common American citizenship. If I could I would have the kind of restriction which would not allow any immigrant to come here unless I was content that his grandchildren would be fellow-citizens of my grandchildren.
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1916
Gary Kawamura, while admirably not engaging in ad hominem attacks on the CRs, misses the point completely in his column in today's Daily Evergreen :
The problem with the act is that it supports a narrow, insular view of the United States. Making all government publications and business conducted solely in English would certainly not encourage international or even multicultural exchange and involvement. It’s time to realize the United States is part of the international community. Look at some of the most pressing issues in recent news: the conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East, issues of economy, or trade and immigration in Latin America. If we wish to be active members in the international community, we must learn to communicate with other countries.The English Language Unity Act has absolutely NOTHING to do with "establishing the United States as a member of the international community." Just the opposite. It helps establish international immigrants as members of the U.S. community. How does encouraging the teaching of foreign languages to native English speakers improve the plight of illegal immigrants? During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a "Grand Tour" (an extended tour of European countries) was typically part of the education of every young British gentleman. That tradition lives on in today's intellectual elite and Kawamura's editorial smacks of this gentrified attitude. But immigrants are more interested in simply moving themselves and their families out of poverty than the opportunity to "study abroad" and achieving "a real understanding of the world as a place beyond the United States."
The English Unity Act places an emphasis on the use of English, and so discourages the learning and use of other languages. What our country needs is just the opposite: to encourage and emphasize learning other languages so we can live successfully in the international community.
A key point to understand is that The English Unity Act “affects” only government. In their pamphlet, the CRs are quick to explain that the act “will not limit the languages spoken in private businesses, religious services, private conversations, etc.” This would have us believe that the use of only English, in government, would have no effect on the rest of the population. If English is the only language spoken within our government, then it will certainly affect the rest of the population’s view about using languages other than English.
The use and learning of languages other than English is important, not only in establishing the United States as a member of the international community, but also in keeping with the goals and ideals of America of freedom, democracy and independence.
The English Unity Act lacks the foresight and independent thinking that the United States, as a country, should uphold.
Here's what Rep. Steve King, who introduced the English Language Unity Act, has to say in a press release:
There are over 6,000 languages spoken throughout the world, and in the United States there are at least 28 different dominant languages -- those spoken by at least 100,000 people. The English Language Unity Act helps immigrants by encouraging them to learn English to fully integrate into American society.Predictably, our local left-wingers are against the bill and are attempting to marginalize the CRs as "racists," "fascists," "homophobes(?)," and "extremists," even though a June 2006 Rasmussen poll reported that a whopping 85% of Americans support English as the national language. Only 11% disagree. That my friends, is bipartisan support. But the liberal elitist minority know they can only rule by creating paranoia, dissension, discontent, and manipulating minority groups. By voting for national unity, the leftists would be voting themselves out of power.
“English is the language of opportunity in America,” said King. “Learning English opens doors to better jobs and opportunities, which America was built upon. The only way to fully learn about American culture, and what makes America truly unique, is through our common bond of the English language.”
Almost 12 million Americans are linguistically isolated, according to the U.S. Census. In addition, immigrants who are not proficient in English earn an average of 17% less than English- proficient immigrants with similar backgrounds, experience and education. The gap grows wider with the opportunities English-proficient immigrants realize while moving up the economic ladder.
“I couldn’t have gotten this far in school and my work experience if I didn’t get the English immersion to the extent that I did,” said Gloria Fung, an immigrant from Hong Kong, who while attending George Mason University, is studying for pharmaceutical school. “I know my opportunities and experiences will be very different than my parents, who haven’t fully learned English.”