Americanize America’s Immigrants

As you may have noticed by my website, I am bilingual. I didn’t have the privilege of growing up in a bilingual family, though. I acquired my second language (Japanese) through study. When I was in high school, I studied Spanish for two years. I even got the Spanish award.

I think everyone should learn a second language. It provides another outlet to express yourself, and it helps you understand other cultures. However, when you choose to live in a foreign country, that option becomes a requirement.

The United States is a country of immigrants (as are most other countries, for that matter). We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. The only thing that makes us a country is a common love of freedom and democracy. The English language is the only means by which we can share that common interest and work to improve our communities, cities, states and country. Choosing to take up permanent residence in the United States should indicate an interest in becoming part of the American society.

In Beverly Hills, however, they recently held an election where ballots were cast in English, Spanish and Farsi. If these Spanish and Farsi speakers cannot understand enough English to cast a ballot, how on earth can they understand the issues enough to make an informed decision on for whom they should vote?

Not only does this type of action prevent them from assimilating into American society, but it is discriminatory. What of the speakers of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, German, etc., etc.? Translating such materials into only a select few languages besides English is a despicable practice.

There’s another problem with this failure to encourage immigrants to learn English. It’s the issue of fairness to American citizens. Why should American tax payers be forced to foot the bill for translations into these languages? (And, yes, translations do cost money; trust me on this one.) These immigrants are coming to the United States where English is the spoken tongue. Why should we have to learn their language? They are the ones who chose to come. We did not force them to come and in most cases did not even ask.

Failing to encourage immigrants to learn English deprives them of the opportunity to succeed in the American dream. It divides us as a nation, and it is unfair to the majority.

Americanize America’s Immigrants – There’s nothing radical about E Pluribus Unum

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