June 12, 2006


Blending In, Moving Up (Tyler Cowen and Daniel M. Rothschild, June 12, 2006, Washington Post)

Beneath the surface of the immigration debate is a debate about shared values. If we look at just three of those values -- the English language, family and hard work -- we see a higher level of Latino assimilation than is often presumed.

Despite claims to the contrary, census data show that most Latino immigrants learn and speak English quite well. Only about 2.5 percent of American residents speak Spanish but not English. The majority of residents of Spanish-speaking households speak English "very well."

Only 7 percent of the children of Latino immigrants speak Spanish as a primary language, and virtually none of their children do. Just as they did a century ago, immigrants largely come knowing little English. But they learn, and their children use it as a primary language. The United States is not becoming a bilingual nation.

We've turned far stronger cultures into mere Americanism without any difficulty.

With 5,000 building jobs open here, illegal workers heed call (Brady McCombs, 6/12/06, Arizona Daily Star)

Four glossy Employee of the Month plaques hang side by side in the hallway of Jorge Quintanilla's South Side apartment.

A watch honoring five years of service lies on his nightstand.

Despite using a work alias, a fraudulent Social Security number and a fake green card, Quintanilla has fared well installing insulation in Tucson.

It's a symbiotic relationship for him and his employer.

Quintanilla, a married father of two, benefits from a steady job that last year paid $40,000. The company profits from a reliable worker willing to learn. Although Quintanilla and other workers interviewed for this story agreed to use their real names, the Star is withholding the names of their employers because that is the only way they would share their stories.

"The company appreciates my service, and I appreciate them keeping me," says Quintanilla, 36, who came from Hermosillo, Sonora, in 1999 and overstayed a tourist visa. "And each year it has gotten better with them."

Workers such as Quintanilla remain in demand in an industry that employs more than 27,000 people here and needs 5,000 more — even as lawmakers rebalance a seesaw tipped for decades toward keeping people out while ignoring businesses that hire them.

The Princeton Salutatorian Who Could Become a Leading Classics Scholar: He's an Illegal Immigrant: Illegal Immigrant Wins Oxford Scholarship, Risks Return to U.S. After Stint Overseas (DAVID MUIR, June 6, 2006, ABC News)
When Dan-el Padilla Peralta stood before his fellow Princeton graduates today and delivered the salutatory address, in Latin no less, it was a remarkable feat in itself.

But the story of how he made it to the Ivy League school rivals the Roman classics he fell in love with as a young boy.

Padilla came to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a 4-year-old on a short-term visa, as his mother sought urgent medical care. They remained, and his childhood was spent skipping from one shelter to another in New York.

"It was a kind of personal hell we were all going through," Padilla said. "Because of the rampant drug use, many people's lives were utterly broken."

While those around Padilla struggled in his New York neighborhood, Padilla inadvertently found a future for himself at age 9 when he started reading a book on ancient Greek and Roman culture.

He was hooked, and kept reading.

"It allowed me to sort of forge with my imagination a world that I was not a part of," Padilla said.

His reading and interest in learning helped him win a scholarship to a prestigious prep school, and he hid his school tie while walking from his family's tiny Harlem apartment to the subway.

Next, he earned a scholarship to Princeton, despite his lack of citizenship.

"To me, the only amazing thing about him was his ability," said Dennis Feeney, professor in Princeton's classics departmentt. "I had no idea he was undocumented."

That is, until now. Padilla has revealed his illegal status because he's been invited to study at Oxford University in England.

If he leaves the United States, immigration law says he can't come back for at least a decade.

Who'd want such a free-loader to be an American, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 12, 2006 7:26 AM

Well, he will be able to come back if accepts an offer from a university to fill a job no American can do. With his background that should be a sure thing.

Posted by: erp at June 12, 2006 1:49 PM

Policy by emotional anecdote.

And in a country this large, if you can't find several such anecdotes, it's because you are too lazy. (Hey, another opportunity for all those illegal immigrants to do jobs American's won't!)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 12, 2006 4:01 PM

Each of us is just an anecdote in favor of immigration. We killed off Clovis man.

Posted by: oj at June 12, 2006 4:06 PM

"If he leaves the United States, immigration law says he can't come back for at least a decade." The point is? He spends a few years in Oxford studying and teaching Classics, then tour the world as a Classical scholar. A rich Ivy League such as Harvard, Yale, or Princeton will go thru hell to lure him back from Oxford.

Posted by: ic at June 12, 2006 4:32 PM

ic, Universities don't go through hell. They merely sign a document saying there are no Americans who can do the job. I hate offer another anecdote, but a Chinese professor from Taiwan here on a work visa, left the U.S. without permission to attend her father's funeral. When she returned, she was only delayed a day or two until the proper paperwork was completed.

Posted by: erp at June 12, 2006 5:58 PM

Hello, people, this is all under the control of the INS. It's all about the bribes. And bribes don't have to be money.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 12, 2006 6:19 PM