Sunday, May 31, 2009

File this under "Man Bites Dog"

A major newspaper has run an intelligent, well written article that's highly critical of Hispanic immigration.

Lawrence Harrison, a self-described "lifelong Democrat ... [and] early and avid supporter of Obama", lays out a clear, persuasive case for why America needs to dramatically reduce the number of Latino immigrants it takes in.
The principal beneficiaries of our current immigration policy are affluent Americans who hire immigrants at substandard wages for low-end work. ... American workers lose $190 billion annually in depressed wages caused by the constant flooding of the labor market at the low-wage end.

The healthcare cost of the illegal workforce is especially burdensome, and is subsidized by taxpayers. ... This translates into reduced services, particularly for lower-income citizens.
He also adds this gem, which I found particularly fascinating. Speaking about Latinos generally persistent failure to assimilate in America, Harrison points to the indulgence so many in the US have given to exclusively Spanish speakers. "Language," he says, "is the conduit of culture."
Consider: There is no word in Spanish for "compromise" (compromiso means "commitment") nor for "accountability," a problem that is compounded by a verb structure that converts "I dropped (broke, forgot) something" into "it got dropped" ("broken," "forgotten").
These characteristics of the Spanish language are often reflected in the behavior of Hispanic people. (My wife is pursuing her Masters in teaching ESL. Her classes are full of examples of the ways in which a language not only reflects characteristics of a culture, but also helps shape the thoughts and behaviors of the members of that culture.)

Harrison concludes with a clear call for necessary and tough-minded changes to US immigration policy.
[We] should confront the challenges by enforcing immigration laws on employment to help end illegal immigration. We should calibrate legal immigration annually to (1) the needs of the economy ... and (2) past performance of immigrant groups with respect to acculturation.

We must declare our national language to be English and discourage the proliferation of Spanish- language media. We should limit citizenship by birth to the offspring of citizens. And we should provide immigrants with easy-to-access educational services that facilitate acculturation, including English language, citizenship, and American values.

Great, great stuff. Check out the whole article.

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