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...