Have you heard about the influx of illegal immigrants from
Poland, Canada and Hungary? No? I’m not surprised because it doesn’t exist.
You see, the problem the US has with illegal immigrants has nothing to do with immigration policy, but everything to do with Mexico and a few other Latin American countries, it has to do with politics and votes and Americas need for the services of these illegal immigrants. Witness the recent action by President Obama to appease the Latino vote (although creating a viable path to legal residence and ultimately citizenship for individuals brought to the US as children in itself is not a bad idea).
All past immigrant groups faced their own challenges and discrimination, often from other groups who preceded them. Ultimately though the Italians, Germans, Irish and many others became Americans, gave up their native language in a generation and were merged into the great melting pot of America. That was their goal and most succeeded admirably (thankfully for me and my family).
But now something is different. Many (not all) new immigrants legal or otherwise appear to have a different view of what being an American includes. While it is not exclusive to Latino Americans, it is highly visible for this community.
The desire to become an American, speak like an American and be part of a blended society appears lacking in many who seek legal status. My cable service includes scores of Spanish speaking shows, my local stores post their signs in both Spanish and English, my local Sears store makes general announcements in Spanish and I am nowhere near the Southern border of the US. When I call customer service for any large organization I am asked if I want English or Spanish. When I look at the label of something in the supermarket I often see Spanish. In large measure, it appears that adults make little attempt to assure that their children’s first language is English (while assuring children retain valuable bi-lingual skills). All this enables the ability to avoid the transition to a new society. Schools don’t assimilate, but accommodate.
Something is surely different and it is not a positive change. We should be keenly aware of the dangers of a segmented society based on language or ethnicity. We only need to look at centuries of conflict in Europe and other countries to see the ongoing problems of a segmented society.
The US should welcome hard working, law abiding and talented individuals from any country, including Mexico. The fact is we need them, but the motivation of individuals seeking permanent residence and citizenship must be to become an American in all respects including accepting our language, our laws and allegiance to our country and it’s fundamental values.
I don’t think that is too much to ask. I would think that Americans of Latino decent would want the same thing.