English is power

In Boston, children from Spanish-speaking homes are learning English quickly now that schools have dropped bilingual classes; some now prefer speaking English. But are they losing their native language and culture? And what happens when the children speak better English than their parents?

The Boston Globe story sees the negatives, but admits that learning English has empowered the mothers too, though they’ll never be as fluent as their children.

About Joanne


  1. D. Cooper says:

    And what happens when the children speak better English than their parents? Why not ask the thousands of Italian-Americans who ended up speaking better English than their parents. If you want to partake of the great American way, losing a little bit of your culture isn’t so bad. You get a little bit of ours. What’s wrong with changing cultures. Maybe now when I order a burger a Mickey Dees, they’ll understand me. I don’t really mean that in a condescening manner, but I think I deserve to be understood speaking my own language in this country.

  2. The immigrant experience has always involved conflicts between parents and children (Hell, this country was founded on that concept! If we didn’t NOT do as we were told, we’d have a queen), so this is nothing new.

    Immersion is probably the best way to learn a new language. Bilingual education has too often meant “separate, in Spanish” rather than “together, with translation”. We need less of the former and more of the latter to make things work like they should.

  3. Somewhere in the not to distant past, my ancestors came over here speaking German. The only thing German about me is my last name. I do not speak a word of German and I really, quite honestly, don’t miss it. I have an American culture that I enjoy, thank you very much.
    So, keeping this brief, get over it. Your culture will stay around and become part of American culture. Enjoy!

  4. “Are her children learning English so quickly and completely that it will end up blotting out their native language and culture?”

    It seems to me that language and culture are two completely different things… One doesn’t lose their roots by speaking a different language any more than one would gain roots by learning a new language…

    I think the better question is the one they didn’t ask… Are children who become fluent in English at a young age more likely to succeed in an English-speaking country as adults..?

    I have my hunches about the answer…

  5. jeff wright says:

    You know, we make a big deal about keeping the motherland’s language and culture. Who cares? Why did you come here? You like Mexican culture, stay in Mexico. Immigrants presumably come here because they want to be Americans.

    All of us come from families where the kids were better at English and more versed in American culture than the parents. Maybe it was 20 years ago, maybe it was 200 years ago. It’s what we do. IMO, the biggest mistake we have made in these “enlightened” times has been to be solicitous about immigrants’ native cultures and languages.

    America is all about the next generation being better than the last. It’s what has made us unique and great. My 32-year-old daughter makes more money per annum than I’ve ever made in my life. Good for her. She’s better educated and smarter. I make more than my parents ever did, am better educated, etc. That’s the American way.

    You want to keep speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, whatever, good for you. But understand you’ve chosen a life of cleaning houses and mowing lawns. Don’t make your kids do it.

  6. I think they want their kids to learn English. I think they just don’t want them to lose their Spanish. I can understand that. Even if the parents learn English, there could be a large extended family that these kids will be isolated from if they don’t retain their Spanish.

  7. Yeah, but, Laura, that’s happened to everyone who’s ever come here.

  8. jeff wright says:

    Laura: “I think they just don’t want them to lose their Spanish.”

    Laura, they’ve got to. Most of them, anyway. Hey, if a kid can grow up fluent—and I mean truly fluent—in each language, that kid’s on the way up. But it doesn’t work that way for most of them. The reality is that the kids grow up OK at everyday spoken English, but terrible at reading and writing. Doomed, in other words.

    The choice: keep the Spanish or really immerse yourself in American society, which includes getting an education—unfortunately not something especially high on the priority list of these parents who insist on keeping native ways. This may mean you’ll lose a lot of Spanish and maybe not be able to converse very well with Tio Jose and Tia Maria.

    Hey, I don’t care. I like the idea of less competition for my kid. We also have yards to be tended and cars to be washed. But those parents should care. Deeply. Just like earlier generations of immigrant parents. Shame on these types of parents. Instead of it being all about their kids, it’s all about them.

  9. Your “native” language and culture is whatever you grow up with, not whatever your parents or ancestors happened to grow up with, and the idea of “roots” is an abstract one at best.

    I come from a multi-cultural family; before they moved here, my relatives mixed with German, Polish and a couple of other central/east European cultures, and I get very angry when I come up against people like the Globe reporter who push the idea that my “roots” are whatever the situation was just before my relatives came here, frozen forever.
    The kids’ native culture is American. Their native language is American English.

    I can understand why the reporter at the Boston Globe is upset: she’s losing future maids and gardeners, and her children will compete with these children for places in university.

  10. theAmericanist says:

    One of the odder things about this whole argument is the notion that culture and language do not change. Theodore Roosevelt got it right a hundred years ago when he recognized that folks speaking German in America soon ceased to speak the language HE had learned in Germany, even as he advocated for fonetik spelling in his country: “The immigrant cannot possibly remember what he was, or continue to be a member of, the Old World society. If he tries to retain his old languages, in a few generations it will become a barbarous jargon…”

    Actually, in a generation or two we absorb what is useful in other languages, as we do what is useful in other cultures: “Americanization” is a two=way street. THEY become US — and who “we” are, as in “We, the People” changes and expands to include ’em.

  11. I’m inclined to agree with the other commenters. There would be no way in hell my kids could preserve all their ancestral cultures intact– their Jewish ancestors would turn over in their graves at the thought of them eating Lechon (roast pig) with their Filipino ancestors or Linguica (sausage) with their Portuguese ancestors.

    Nevertheless, cultural markers endure over generations. It’s been over 100 years since some of my ancestors left the area of the world now known as the Ukraine. But my brother, who is serving a religious mission in the Ukraine, says the people there are culturally just like our family, and he fits right in. We no longer bear the religion, names, or most of the traditions of our Portuguese ancestors, but we still feel “saudades” (a sort of homesickness) when we eat our sweet bread and sopas at the Festa. My children will grow up wearing barongs to Filipino parties, and singing “Sa Kabukiran” for the relatives just like their father did. You’d be amazed to see what aspects of culture remain, even in the melting pot of America.

  12. Steve LaBonne says:

    Considering that our ignorance of foreign languages is scandalous (myself included- a very mediocre reading knowledge of French is all I have to show), I’m a bit queasy about the enthusiasm some seem to have for the children of immigrants losing their parents’ language. We need more multilingual people, not fewer.

  13. D. Cooper says:

    While I can agree with the need for multilingual people, the neccessity for such should not be for the abiltiy to understand the cashier at Mickey Dees.

  14. Steve LaBonne says:

    By multilingual I mean English plus other languages- I would have thought that went without saying.

  15. Bill Leonard says:

    I wonder whether part of the “cultural” issue isn’t the usual human tendency to glorify the old homeland while conveniently forgetting that for all practical purposes it was a pit toilet — which was the whole point of getting out of there and into the US in the first place.

    My daughter-in-law’s mother and her mother’s family are immigrants from Columbia. Her mother and her uncle went through English immersion in school, this being the 1950s, when there was no nonsense about “bilingual education.” And to this day both are advocates of total immersion (my daughter-in-law’s mother, by the way, speaks four languages.) None of these folks, including the grandparents, who prospered, are now retired and still living, God bless ’em, are in any way sentimental about Columbia, its people, its customs, or especially, its government.

    Our grandkids will grow up bilingual, understanding the advantages of fluency in more than one language, but they will have English as their primary language.

  16. Mad Scientist says:

    Gee, you move to France, and you are REQUIRED to learn French. You move to Germany, and you are REQUIRED to learn German. You move to Spain, and you are REQUIRED to learn Spanish. You move to Mexico, and you are REQUIRED to learn Mexican, er, I mean, Spanish. In any of these places it is not a matter of forgetting your heritage or culture. It is a matter of being able to FUNCTION in the society where you CHOSE to live.

    Did you know that the NJ driver’s license test is given in some 60+ different languages? Think of the COST involved.

    Why don’t we here require immigrants to learn the common language of the nation, which is currently American English? This is a politically correct cause if ever there was one. And most Americans fall for it because of a collective guilt.

    It truly sickens me.

  17. D. Cooper says:

    I got that … but does other languages have to always mean Spanish … I understand that these are low paying jobs, and they’re taken by many of the newly arrived, but it is frustrating. I do however give them credit for their willingness to work hard to make it here. I don’t know about queasy .. feeling ill, on the point of vomiting?? No one is talking about losing their parents language … actually they can take spanish and actually learn an educated version. I’m told that most of what they do speak is very poor Spanish and wouldn’t cut it in the business world. By being emersed in English and taking Spanish they’d have a real advantage while maintaing their native language. You certainly wouln’t expect an American born third generation from anywhere not to take English classes. The English learned at home in many cases needs fine tuning so to speak. All in all this program will be of great benefit to them.

  18. Michelle Dulak says:

    I have a friend who married a Dutchwoman, and still spends part of the year playing in a Dutch orchestra. I’ve not heard him speak Dutch, but his wife and their children are marvelously, fluently bilingual; they can and do switch languages almost sentence by sentence in casual conversation with one another. And their English is completely unaccented California English (don’t know about the Dutch; to my unpracticed ear it sounds authentic). It seems to me that this is the sort of thing we ought to want to happen more often.

  19. The ‘Spanish’ that most of those along the border of the U.S. and Mexico speak is not proper Spanish. It is a local dialect that is an uneducated blend of Spanish, English, and several local Indian languages. It is culturally considered evidence of being lower class.

    When I went to school in San Antonio in the ’70’s, most of my classmates were hispanic and supposedly spoke Spanish at home, many as their primary language. But they consistently failed Spanish I and II, because the language they thought they knew was not the proper Castillian Spanish that the educated Mexican speak.

    My father grew up in the Rio Grande valley in Texas – in Harlingen. Because he was Osage/Cherokee, everyone assumed he was Mexican. He liked to tell this story: His high school hired a new Spanish teacher, Miss Montoya. Her first day, she became very frustrated with the students because of their poor knowledge of correct and proper Spanish. For example, everybody said something was ‘muy largo’, but Miss Montoya insisted that it was ‘muy grande’. Well, finally, she had had enough, and about that time the school’s custodian came by to fix something in the classroom. She proceeded to tell him, in fluent and gramatically correct Castillian Spanish, what she wanted done and how to do it. Finally, he scratched his head and said in broken English, “Senorita Montoya, I don’ un’erstand what the hell you say!” The kids broke up laughing, of course. I suspect she had minimal success, since none of those kids likely had any need to learn proper, educated Spanish – and it would have made them appear to be ‘putting on airs’ to their family and friends. The cultural pressure to conform is enormous….

  20. I occasionally had to translate for my parents when I was younger and I think I’m the better for it. Not teaching these children English and still expecting them to contribute to society would be the cruelest thing.

  21. Ken Summers says:

    And what happens when the children speak better English than their parents?

    I’ll tell you exactly what happens: They translate for their parents and teach them English.

  22. theAmericanist says:

    It’s wasted on Mad, of course — but the fact is, there ain’t an ESL program in America that doesn’t have a waiting list.

    Guff about “requiring” folks to learn English is precisely the sort of ‘let somebody else pay for it’ crap that literally alienates millions of new Americans, just so fools can feel superior.

  23. PJ/Maryland says:

    I agree with Boo, above, that some of this “maintaining our culture” seems to be coming from the reporter rather than the parents.

    In fact, it may be a good sign that the parents are worrying (a bit) about their kids picking up English too quickly. This suggests that Boston’s immersion program is working already, and the parents are not too worried about their kids succeeding in American society.

    “So, inside the Martinez home, only Spanish is allowed.” Unfortunately, this will make it harder for the senior Martinezes to learn English, a point the Globe reporter manages to miss.

  24. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘But are they losing their native language and culture? ‘

    Funny – cockfighting seems to be on the rise in the Spanish Crescent – That’s the Lowell to Worcester belt.

  25. My mother came here in the 60’s and had to learn English on the fly. It filled here with a sense of pride, and she helped to to teach my grandmother. When she had my brother and I she decided that the path to scolastic success would be easier in an all English home. My brother and I had no difficulty in school, regarding the language that is. When we were older we both studied Spanish in high school and college. We were then able to obtain fluency be living with family in Honduras, where my mother was born. This may be a rare example, but it proves that by learning Enlish first we didn’t have to forget about my mother’s culture.

  26. Mad Scientist says:

    I know it’s wasted on theAmericanist, but you go to any of those other countries, and there are NO (Fill in the blank with the common language of the country) as a Second Language course offered. People are expected to learn ON THEIR OWN.

    As a matter of fact, until at least the 1970’s, ESL was not widely offered here in the US. Immigrants somehow KNEW that learning English was the door to opportunity, and they worked to earn the means to access that door. Not so today.

    This is not to say we should not offer ESL to help these people transition into American scociety. But it should be REQUIRED here, as it is in other countries, just so society can function.

    It is not a matter of “feeling superior”. It’s a matter of acting as a welcomed guest as opposed to the guests IMPOSING their language on the rest of our society.

    But I suppose if theAmericanist were to visit another country where the common language were not one he spoke well, he would insist that everything be conducted in English. By not making even the slightest attempt to learn some of the local language, you are viewed as arrogant in other countries. This was my experience in Italy (where I learned some basic Italian) and in Taiwan, where I tried to learn some numbers.

    Even though I managed to learn to count to ten, and my pronounciation was less than perfect, the EFFORT was appreciated.

  27. There’s a 70something-year-old man in my Sunday School class who’s third-generation American. His grandfather immigrated here from Germany. My friend’s father made sure he learned German, and they spoke it together. He believes it enriches his life. It takes nothing away from his grasp of English, believe me.

  28. theAmericanist says:

    In rough order, the countries that actually have immigration to speak of are: the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina. None “requires” English — nor even Spanish, although Argentina has considered it.

    Other countries have long term ‘visitors’, like France (which does emphasize language), or Germany (Britain’s immigrants generally come from the old Empire), but they don’t have ‘immigration’ in the American sense, because you simply cannot become German. I used to be fluent in Mandarin and I have a little Japanese, but I couldn’t move to China, much less Japan, and become a local anymore than I could climb a tree and become a pine cone.

    But ANYBODY can become American. Mad obviously disagrees — but that is not just a good thing, it’s what makes us America.

    The demand for English language instruction in the United States is off the charts — and the ease with which reporters fret about kids Americanizing is only matched by the ease with which knuckleheads dis folks who are trying their damndest to learn the language and help their kids to build a better life: “require’ English, me eye.

    English needs to be TAUGHT, not required.

  29. Mad Scientist says:

    I disagree? With what? Please enlighten me.

    What part of “This is not to say we should not offer ESL to help these people transition into American scociety. But it should be REQUIRED here, as it is in other countries, just so society can function.” states where I believe immigration is a bad thing? Learn to read. And comprehend.

    I wnat to make it mandatory, not voluntary. As a liberal, you should see the goodness in forcing people to do the right thing.

    Actually, anyone from a former French colony is allowed to emigrate to France. However, all the public services are offered in FRENCH. In the German speaking areas of Switzerland, students are required to take High German in school as a second language (“Swiss German” is looked upon with disdain). If you move to Quebec, you are expected to learn French.

    Anyone who comes to this country should abide by our customs, and learn our common language.

    End of story.

  30. jeff wright says:

    Actually, because this is the U.S. and our way of doing things is different from those of our Euro friends, I don’t think English should be REQUIRED, other than in the schools. However, I do think governmental entities should be prohibited from using any language other than English. This would outlaw election materials, drivers’ license instructions, welfare stuff, you name it, in any other language. Let’s see how fast a lot of immigrants decide they want to learn English. Might save some money, too.

    Enlightened self-interest. It’s the American way.

  31. Mad Scientist says:

    Thank you Jeff, that’s precisely what I mean by “just so society can function”.

    Personally, I would not hire anyone who could not speak rudimentary English.

  32. theAmericanist says:

    Curious how meanness, ignorance and stupidity form coalitions.

    Item: a major newspaper, not notably sympathetic to the idea, cannot but report that the kids of immigrants learn English and lose their parents language. (This in Massachussetts which used to routinely flunk Puerto Rican kids out of algebra classes for lack of English: and Puerto Ricans are CITIZENS, specifically authorized for Spanish by law.)

    Item: every ESL program in the country has a waiting list.

    Item: every ESL program in the country is underfunded. (This is why they have waiting lists.)

    Item: there is as yet no language test for paying taxes. So folks whose English may not be fluent, neverthless work for a living AND pay taxes.

    Item: The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1997 that, excluding refugees (who are admitted BECAUSE they need help, after all), immigrants do not consume more government services per-capita than those of us born here.

    Item: Education costs money.

    And how do Mad and JW respond to this?

    They pay each other on the back for wanting to DENY those who pay taxes access to the services (such drivers licenses) that they pay for. There is ZERO evidence– nada, zip, meiyoshemma — that immigrants to the U.S. resist acquiring English. NONE. But (note those waiting list ESL classes) there is a ton of evidence that those of us who were born here are failing in our obligation to those whom we have INVITED.

    Aquinas observed long ago that the best way to fight evil, is to do good. Requiring English for any government service or benefit is simply an attempt to deny it to those who have EARNED it. It’s illegitimate and unlawful, but more than that, the impulse is unAmerican.

    No wonder you guys are so eager to identify with it.

    Instead of (insert obscene metaphor here) about requiring English, why don’t you guys write Congress and demand full funding for ESL? Or volunteer to teach literacy classes yourself?

  33. D. Cooper says:

    The Am. … regarding paying taxes…. I wonder if you limosine liberals who pay your drivers, gardiners, and house keepers in cash … does that money gets taxed?

    And full funding for ESL … just what we need another government funded failure. I’m not opposed to ESL, but you’d have to question my honesty if I wanted the government to run it.

  34. theAmericanist says:

    My Dad ran a construction company. I write for a very meager living. I cut my own grass and now and then, I even rake my own leaves. I do not assume that everybody who speaks Spanish is a laborer — and I spent a considerable chunk of the mid-1990s fighting (and losing) to the liberal/liberatarian coalition that caused this mess.

    But YOU, DB … well, I shall be charitable.

  35. Mad Scientist says:

    Gee, Americanist, when I want to, or need to, acquire skill I do not have, I do NOT go running to the government or to my employer to get them to pay for it. I do it on my own.

    What is so wrong with expecting that from those who volunatrily enter this country?

    If these people are paying taxes, then they have an income and can find a way to pay for English lessons. Or get them from their church. Or find some way to self-study.

    It’s not that hard.

  36. theAmericanist says:

    Almost 10 years ago, when Congress was considering the despicable ban on non-citizens for public assistance, I researched three examples of exactly what this contemptible act would mean: First, a brilliant kid who at the age of 15 was building, I forget, nuclear acclerators in his garage or something: he couldn’t have gone to MIT without government money.

    Second, I found the former head of the Disabled Veterans of America, a Cuban refugee who had lost both legs in Vietnam — without becoming a U.S. citizen because he did not want to renounce Cuba libre.

    Third, I found a battered woman with three kids. I can’t do her story justice here, but the gist of it was that she married a guy for love, but he was SO passionate, that he hit her sometimes, and then they made up. Baby girl #1. Now there were two mouths to feed, she was distracted, he was jealous, he hit her more. Then they made up again — baby girl #2. All the money and other problems got worse, and he raped her: baby #3.

    She was sleeping on a park bench with her three little girls when the cops found her, and sent her to a shelter. There they said, look chula: He’s going to KILL you. That’s how these things work. What do you want to do?

    She said: I want to keep my girls together. If that means going back to him, well: that’s what I’ll do.

    They got her on welfare and into public housing. It took about 18 months before she got off both, about two years before I interviewed her — two years in which she didn’t take a nickel from the gummint. She was working nights emptying wastebaskets in a big DC lobbying firm.

    I asked why she hadn’t become a citizen yet. She explained that she was raising three little girls and working nights — English classes aren’t exactly convenient, and learning a language at the age of 40 ain’t a piece of cake, either.

    So I asked why WOULD she? And she said: Because my three little girls were all born here, they are American citizens — and I don’t want them growing up thinking that their mom is less than they are.

    Psst, Mad: the public school system IS the civic contract incarnate. We pay into it, regardless of whether we have kids in it — because that’s the price of civilization.

    And I can think of somebody with poor English skills who strikes me as a helluva lot better American than you, bub.

  37. jeff wright says:

    Americanist: You’re not going to influence anyone the way you’re going about it. Plus, you don’t even know whom you’re attacking.

    I stand by my public services argument because I WANT these people to learn English. Paradoxically, they may have to be forced into it, which is why I call it enlightened self-interest. Full immersion in English without an all-encompassing safety net in the native language would, IMO, assist greatly.

    Do they want to learn English? Yes, they want to, but do they REALLY want to? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve taught ESL (have an official state credential and all that). My typical class was 30-35 adults, and, yes, there was a waiting list. Classes were free. Of my students—some of whom I had for multiple terms—I would be lucky to have a third who really worked at it. Most limited their work at English to the classroom and would not do anything on their own. Most, unfortunately, believed they were doomed to a life of menial labor no matter what they did, hence a certain self-defeating mindset. With certain notable exceptions, whatever I and other teachers did, we could not break through that.

    Taxes? Sure they pay ’em, those who aren’t illegals working the cash economy (in case you haven’t heard, we do have a few of them). The idea is to improve their English skills so they can pay more in taxes.

    Public schools? I agree with your civic contract thesis. Even in those moments when I want to close half the public schools down, I don’t favor abolition of public funding—whether it be directly to schools or through a voucher system.

    Now lighten up. Nobody here wants to starve immigrants out. A lot of us actually welcome them because they are what makes this country great and also because they are the future. I’d like to see them able to work to their full potential.

  38. theAmericanist says:

    I agree — especially since JW just noted that 1) ESL classes have waiting lists, and 2) those who don’t speak English fluently still pay taxes.

    A note on the illegal population: In ballpark figures, there are roughly 11 million (give or take, depending on who you believe) illegal residents. Of that total, at LEAST 3.5 million are already eligible based on family ties (spouses, kids, or siblings) for immigration visas which they don’t have — not because of government inefficiency, but because Congress promises more than it delivers. That leaves about 8 million — give or take.

    Of THAT total, virtually all have jobs — and most of THEM are legal jobs (that is, the jobs themselves are legal), above minumum wage, often in highly regulated industries: meatpacking, construction, agriculture, food service. In other words, they pay taxes.

    I’m a fan of total immersion, overload principle language instruction. (I’ve done it twice, myself.)

    But the point of getting what you pay for from the government is NOT language instruction. Going to the DMV is not an opportunity to learn better English.


  39. jeff wright says:

    “A note on the illegal population: In ballpark figures, there are roughly 11 million (give or take, depending on who you believe) illegal residents. Of that total, at LEAST 3.5 million are already eligible based on family ties (spouses, kids, or siblings) for immigration visas which they don’t have — not because of government inefficiency, but because Congress promises more than it delivers. That leaves about 8 million — give or take.

    Of THAT total, virtually all have jobs — and most of THEM are legal jobs (that is, the jobs themselves are legal), above minumum wage, often in highly regulated industries: meatpacking, construction, agriculture, food service. In other words, they pay taxes.”

    Americanist, do you have citations for the figures you advance? I’m a little curious, in view of the fact that it is unlawful to hire illegals and a lot of “highly regulated industries” might be a little leery about breaking the law. I’m also struck by your 3.5 million figure that are categorized as illegals, but are somehow really legals. Sure would like to see an authoritative reference for that.

    WRT paying taxes and therefore deserving services in the language of choice, you raise an interesting philosophical point, one I’m not prepared to discard out of hand. However, I am a little reluctant to do so, especially in areas such as voting. Inasmuch as English is the standard language for political matters in this country, I have to wonder just how well-informed a voter who needs foreign language materials can be. Granted, a lot of people who don’t need the foreign language materials aren’t well-informed either, but still…..

    Driving? Well, one could make a case that a driver who doesn’t understand English might not be as competent on the roads, and thus perhaps pose more of a danger to others.

    Welfare services? IMO, a slam dunk, especially since the tax argument recedes in importance. If you take the king’s money, you should have at least a rudimentary command of his language.

    Personally, I think you’re promoting immigrants—especially illegals—to a status many may not deserve. Of course, it may be that my mindset is different. I’m one of those who doesn’t want illegals here. They weren’t invited.

  40. Mad Scientist says:

    So I am not a good American because I believe that people hold the power in their hands to change their lives.

    I may be mistaken, but that was one of the founding principals of this nation.

    Mr. Americanist, your attitude towards people who want to preserve AMERICAN culture is contemptable.

  41. theAmericanist says:

    Reports of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 1994-1997; U.S.-Mexico Binational Study Commission, 1997; the Statistical Yearbooks published by the INS, now BCIS, Department of Homeland Security, start anywhere, continue through the last one I saw, which was ’02, just to name a couple off the top of me head. You might also check out the (highly restrictionist, but generally accurate) Center for Immigration Studies reports (including the one I wrote).

    Regarding the industries that employ illegals — gee, ask around. It’s not like this is news. I’d suggest the work of Lindsay Lowell at Georgetown, among others.

    Just as a small point, though: internal enforcement of our immigration laws essentially ceased around 1998 under the Clinton administration, precisely because of raids conducted by Mark Reed, the then director of the INS’ central region, concentrating primarily on meatpacking plants.

    This abdication was accelerated under Bush, who appointed guys to run the INS who had actively opposed its law enforcement mission in the Clinton years, notably Stuart Anderson who was director of policy. The Washington Monthly documented this guy’s record opposing the student visa system that was specifically designed (in part) to catch the Al Qaeda guys who did 9-11. As somebody put in the piece, you may not like the war on drugs: but you would put somebody to run the DEA who wanted to legalize heroin?

  42. Also, there are many large and some not-so-large cities across the U.S. that are ‘sanctuaries’. That is, by local law, they have made it illegal for city employees, including police, to report illegal aliens to the INS. In fact, in Houston, if a Houston police officer reports an illegal to the INS, he can be fired and lose his pension.

    And for this, you can thank all the bleeding-heart liberals who think anyone should be allowed to come to the U.S. just because they want to, and if they break the law in the process, well, they did the wrong thing for the right reason and must be forgiven.

    The people who are getting hurt the worst by this illegal immigration are the people who can least afford it: the poor and poorly educated, who compete for the same jobs. Unfortunately, they are also least likely to comprehend that they are the ones being hurt.

  43. theAmericanist says:

    Retain some perspective. The “sanctuary” movement is more or less nonsense. Local law enforcement plays no effective role in immigration enforcement — and what’s more, it shouldn’t. If an illegal resident is mugged or raped, he or she should NEVER fear the cops. Ya wanna talk ‘enlightened self interest”? I want them to testify to get the guy who attacked THEM, so he’s not on the street to attack ME.

    There are two basic reasons for the problem the U.S. has with illegal immigration: 1) we do not enforce employer sanctions, and 2) Congress does not deliver on the family unification visas it promises.

    Do the math, and you’ll see that’s true.

  44. Mad Scientist says:

    You forgot one: politicians of both parties pandering to these people for votes.

    And if you believe that they cannot vote, you are mistaken. I have never seen voter registration cards ask the question “are you a US citizen?”

    With no ID checks at the polls, it’s an area quite ripe for voter fraud.

  45. theAmericanist says:

    LOL — I just don’t want that bizarre charge to be entirely ignored.

    Just dismissed, as unworthy even of rebuttal.

  46. D. Cooper says:

    Just saw a news bit on the most annoying phrases….24/7, thinking outside the box, etc. They left out LOL….

  47. Mad Scientist says:

    OK, Mr. Know-it-all americanist:

    The Democrats and Republicans do not want to offend legal immigrants and recently naturalized citizens by cracking down on illegal immigration.

    Both parties are pandering to get the attention and votes of the Hispanic community.

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

  48. theAmericanist says:

    LOL — not quite. Actually, if you read polling data, Latinos tend to be restrictionist.

    The key to understanding immigration politics is to realize that it has great cleavage, but no salience. That is, if you ask folks what they think, you get a very sharp difference in opinions. Cleavage.

    But if you don’t ask — folks rarely bring it up: no salience.

    But it is a superb identity politics/tolerance issue. That is, someone like Buchanan, identified with a particular point of view, is likely to lose FAR more votes than he gains by taking a clear position against current levels of legal immigration. Somebody like Bush proposes an obviously unworkable plan, precisely because he wants — not the Latino votes, which aren’t gonna go to him anyway — but all those Suburbans who worry about, well — guys like Mad, and don’t want to be identified with ’em.

  49. Mad Scientist says:

    Americanist – I scoff at your dismissiveness, you LOLing bastard.

    If turning a blind eye the laws of this country so as not to piss off potential voters is not pandering, then you are correct.

    But you are not.

  50. theAmericanist says:

    LOL — awww, how cute.

    Curiously empty charge, “pandering”. Ever notice how tax cut advocates never accuse anybody running for office calling for lower taxes of “pandering”? Folks only say a candidate panders when he or she advocates a popular position — with which they personally disagree yet are in a minority. Like a candidate telling a majority of voters that he supports a position they agree with is somehow a bad thing in a democracy?

    (Although I loved Paul Tsongas’ “pander bear” doll, when he ran against Clinton in 1992.)

    Personally, I think you can measure the health of a republic by how openly candidates for office DISAGREE with the voters, and still get re-elected. Nobody agrees on everything, after all. And folks are generally reluctant to vote for somebody who tells ’em something they don’t want to hear — even if they need to hear it. A big part of what’s derailed our political dialogue, such as it is, is that we forget that — encouraged by the likes of Mad.

    Mad and even JW are particularly good examples on this subject. The fact is, English needs to be promoted far more than it needs to be protected — and it doesn’t matter a damn about “American culture”, which is hardly in jeopardy in any case. (They show “I Love Lucy” re-runs in Equatorial Guinea, fercryinoutloud.) For precisely the goals they SAY they want (but, in fact, don’t — look at what they advocate), there are some things they need to hear — but won’t heed.

    Immigration does not dilute, it renews what makes us America. Every time I hear somebody bitching that we ought to spend less money and be more strict about what we require of immigrants, I think: and what are you saying about OUR obligations to THEM?

  51. Anonymous says:

    a load of boring crap

  52. Emilia Wawszczyk says:

    I think you people are the biggest hippocrites. Maybe you aught to take a cultural course. you might learn a thing or two. Other cultures are fascinating. You act like your ancestors came here and spoke perfect English. I beg to differ. I think that alot of the people that come here simply don’t have the luxury to learn English because they have to work for $5.50 an hour to feed their families. If this government was fair, maybe all individuals who come here, legally or not would be given the opportunity to learn English. Some land of opportunity. It doesn’t help of course if individuals like you are so “Americanistic”. Open your eyes, look around you – we can learn so much from other cultures…. I think that before you start judging others for what you believe their life to be, take a good look at yourselves. If you believe that they should learn English, go to your local government, and advocate that. I don’t see you doing that at all…..

  53. …(zajrzyj do skrzynki na pegasus.rutgers.edu)…pozdrwiam