Thursday, June 07, 2007

More Grumbling from Texas

Oooookay...rant comin' up....

Things have been up in arms lately here in North Texas regarding some decisions made in some (very) small towns. One decision in Farmers Branch looks to deny illegal immigrants the "right" to rent apartments and is being contested by a federal (no surprises there) Texas judge. Another proposition in Oak Point aims to make English the official language of the city, though it may not have enough council support to make it through.

I enthusiastically support both of these measures, wish their proponents all the luck in the world, and hope that more and more cities here in the South follow suit. Yes, it may sound a little strange coming from me, the Spanish teacher, but I am enthusiastic about closing our borders to illegal activity (as well as streamlining legal immigration processes -- see here, here, and here for past posts on this), as well as making English our defining language as a nation.

You see, I've worked with latino immigrants--legal latino immigrants--helped them find transportation, apartments, jobs. I have absolutely nothing against latinos, Russians, Irish, whatevers coming here legally to contribute to the growth and cultural enrichment, as we are a nation of immigrants. What bothers me--no, what infuriates me--are the ideas that

1. individuals can come in "under the radar" and receive free health care, shelter, government assistance in WIC or foodstamps, free education, and freedom from paying taxes, while those seeking to do things the honest way are punished by not being able to work, sometimes for up to two years, without a green card;

2. said lawbreakers feel no remorse but rather entitlement to all of the above benefits simply by virtue of their being (in the most prominent case) Mexican, and (adding insult to injury) legal Americans of Mexican descent--not to mention many liberal whites working under a false sense of White Man's Guilt and fear of the "r" word--add to said sense of entitlement through their continued support for this illegal activity in the name of "compassion," "tolerance" "open-mindedness" and even "multi-culturalism";

3. our country leaves our borders and our ports wide open so that any José or Abduhl can just waltz right in undocumented, carrying God-knows-what either into our out of this country scot-free (hey, why not put troops on the border? Oh...right...they're all...overseas...making us...safer...yeeah...thanks, George/Dick/Karl et al); and

4. no part of our government--state or federal--is doing anything to punish businesses (as in, fine them so heavily that they're summarily put out of business) who knowingly hire undocumented persons, and so the major incentive to the immigrant flow continues to go unchecked for the simple want of cheap labor and our sad, continued love affair with big business.

I hope I've made it clear that the key distinction here is legal vs. illegal. I make this statement across the board, regardless of whether the person immigrating is Mexican, Irish, Polish, Greek, Russian, Somalian, Filipino or Lebanese. I personally welcome any and all people who simply seek to come and find a better life for themselves, and I'd like to see us able to legally accommodate them more easily. My only stipulation is that said persons do the honorable thing and obey the laws of the nation from which they seek to benefit--i.e., enter legally, register for taxation of wages, obtain a social security card and state driver's license, carry minimum liability insurance (if they are to be driving)--and, yes, learn the English language to at least a minimally proficient degree.

It is my profession to teach the Spanish language to Americans who do not know it, and some may see this, at first glance, as a way to accommodate and enable those coming in from Spanish-speaking countries so that they might not have to acquire the English language very quickly, if at all. Yet this is not the case; legal immigrants who are recently-arrived will have a learning curve, and thus should have some provision in emergency situations (hospital, police, fire, etc) in their native languages. What is more, our nation trails behind the rest of the world to a sad degree in the number of people who speak multiple languages and, thus, are able to compete more aggressively in the global market. Our determination to be a multilingually-proficient society is not as high as it could or should be, and can only do us good.

Yet "multilingually-proficient" does not necessitate "officially multilingual"; in other words, we can have a citizenry that seeks to communicate with the rest of the world and still have one lingua franca (no pun intended) that serves both to identify and unite us as one country. China's official language is still Chinese, in spite of the many students of English there; Germany still has German as its official language, France has French, Britain has English, and Mexico has Spanish. Other languages undoubtedly exist in each of these countries, but their respective official languages serve to unify all nationalities within said country. Refusal to learn and use said language--insisting, rather, that the country one has moved to in order to benefit cater to you and provide you with your language on a regular basis--is the height of cultural arrogance and should be treated as such.

People do not have the "right" to benefit from a country whose laws they don't respect; to the right you'll see the side of the house of Farmers Branch's mayor, lovingly inscribed thus for calling lawbreakers what they are. Way to win some hearts and minds, compa's. I could go into how meddling Feds are once again getting involved where they ought to butt out, but suffice it to say that if Farmers Branch is using federal guidelines to determine the legality of prospective tenants, then the kowtow to Washington, D.C. has been made and no further intrusion is necessary on the part of those boys north of the Potomac. The folks down here have done what needs to be done--made a law with teeth in it--and it stands to reason that only the folks from 'round here would really get what's led up to the passing of a law like this--and now folks from "way far 'way" are trying to dictate how (or even if) this'll go down. Seems we've seen that somewhere before...but y'all know where I'd go with that...


Gary said...

Amen, brother, amen. Preach it!!!

Rhology said...

You're implying that people have to THINK in order to distinguish between the two different questions of ILLEGAL and LEGAL immigration.
Estás pidiendo mucho, compadre.

Kirk said...

I think your opinion is unfortunate.

I suspect that when Joe American travels abroad, he appreciates seeing signs in English, and being able to order food English. And yet, he does not want to extend the same courtesy to those who visit his country.

And regarding Oak Point--have you ever been there? I have relatives that live there. To call Oak Point a city is to exaggerate. It is three subdivisions that incorporated. To my knowledge, there are no public businesses, no restaurants, no convenience stores or gas stations, no schools, and no churches in Oak Point. Well, there is a sign across the street from City Hall announcing the future erection of a Spanish-language church. Could that be the source of this proposed ordinance? Would that change your opinion?

Blessed be our God always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages!


David Bryan said...


Thanks for commenting! Forgive the late reply.

I know my view is controversial, especially as many of my colleagues know and/or are related to illegal immigrants.

True, when Joe American travels abroad, he does indeed appreciate seeing signs in English, and being able to order food English. And yet, how arrogant it would be to presume that, upon arriving in said country abroad, he be provided with said courtesy. I myself have been in several foreign countries where such courtesy was not provided me. I did not begrudge them one bit; the official language of their countries (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico and Bolivia, in my case) was and is Spanish, and I knew that, if I was going to want to get around in those countries, I would have to achieve some sort of fluency in Spanish! This I did, and I could see the appreciation on the faces of the nationals when this skinny American showed that he'd taken the time to assimilate to them, instead of being the "Ugly American" and assuming that even those in other countries all want to be like us.

I would think that it's not so much that Joe American does not want to extend the same courtesy to those who visit his country as it is that he doesn't want people, whose express purpose is long-term residence in this country--to use said courtesy as a crutch, instead of the stepping stone it should be to assimilation to the predominant linguistic norm. Joe American has seen too much of that going on to want that anymore.

No, I have never been to Oak Point, nor have I ever been to Farmer's Branch. I suspect that towns such as these are looking at what has happened to the bloated big cities and thinking to themselves, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." I teach in Fort Worth, and though our school district is nowhere near where some places like Brownsville or El Paso or Los Angeles are--i.e., majority of students as suspected illegals or children thereof, w/no correct address and who inflate class sizes to 40+ students--I can see how, if trends continue, we could and probably will be next. Yet, we are already to the point where there's no WAY we could pass a law requiring what O.P. or F.B. are requiring, because it'd be labeled as "racist" or something along those lines.

"Blessed be our God always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages!"

Amen! Thanks again for writing.

Bryan said...

Ya know, I do not agree with you on politics all the time, David Bryan, since your own views are rather eclectic, to say the least. And in this case, I both agree and disagree with you.

First, I disagree with the ordinance in Farmer's Branch. I think it is without legal precedent to ask landlords to basically be immigration police and try to find out if their potential renters are in the country legally or not. It resolves absolutely nothing, as the immigrants will merely move onto the next town that supports them. If the INS or whatever it is called now just did its job, and if employers did not hire people who they know have false social security numbers or green cards, an ordinance like this would never cross anyone's mind. I think the thing in Farmer's Branch is inappropriate and laughable and tries to make people solve the problem who have nothing to do with it.

I do agree that immigrants have a responsibility to speak English. I come down here to Brazil all the time for research or fun or whatever, and I have never expected people here to speak English to me. Guess what I did? Yeah, that's right - I learned Portuguese. And all I do is visit here. If I were going to live in another country, you'd better bet I would try to learn their language before I even left the United States.

I do not see a problem with the idea of English being declared the official language of the United States. Does anyone think Mexicans are racist because their country's official language is Spanish? Hell, the French not only make French their official language, they have an academy to make sure it is not "corrupted" by foreign words.

If I were to move to Mexico or Brazil, I could never expect to have my kids educated in English, unless I taught them at home. Yet people whose own countries have official languages and would expect me to learn that language do not think they should need to learn English.