Saturday, April 8

The Importance of English for Immigrants

With all the attention to the border security problem, and the challenges the nation is facing in regards to immigration, here are some thoughts on why learning English is of such importance to immigrants. More importantly, America would benefit greatly if we put a higher priority on getting immigrants to learn English. We are talking about improvements for the economy, reductions in crime, and much more.

Learning English allows an immigrant to:
1. Spread their wings beyond the urban Spanish-speaking enclaves. This, of course, leads to better integration, and a better understanding of what our country really looks like--nothing like "el barrio" in LA. But it also has implications as far as housing, jobs, and more. If an immigrant feels compelled to only live in certain areas to be close to other immigrants, this will place serious limitations on housing and jobs available. God knows housing prices are bad enough in LA and in Miami.

2. Improve on the job opportunities available. I have heard many talk about how immigrant construction workers have top-notch skills. Yet, if they don't speak English, chances are they won't get very far from a low-level laborer position. Those who learn English are promoted to site-supervisor, foreman, etc.

3. Improve their education. If an immigrant without a higher education decides they want to take a training course, or go back to college for a degree, having learned English makes this process so much easier. Statistics show that just having an Associate in Arts increases substantially the earning potential for an individual. Another key factor is that an immigrant who has learned English can also look forward to better paying work in their home country, should they choose to return at some point.

4. Prevents and reduces crime. An immigrant that does not speak English will be more hesitant to contact authorities when they are victimized, out of fear of not being understood. This is true even for those that are here legally. Knowing English can also make a difference between life and death, when a paramedic is trying to give life-saving treatment, and needs to know about possible allergies or what may be.

4. Better education for their children. Informed parents are better parents. If the parent doesn't speak or understand English, chances are the child can get away with deception at school and with homework. Immigrant parents who learn English will feel more comfortable attending PTA meetings, calling up the teacher to check up on the child, and help the student with homework assignments. With the number of Latino gangs and their explosive growth, I wonder what parents who know English would do to children's success ratio in school?
This is not one area we can afford to be PC about. Children are truly the ultimate victim of immigrant disintegration. Its a great disservice when local governments and agencies don't provice any incentives for immigrants to learning English.

Tags: Politics, Homeland Security, MEXICO, learning-english, illegal, , Immigration