January 28, 2009


U.S. Needs an Immigrant, Rather Than Immigration, Policy (Tomás Jiménez, 1/23/09, San Francisco Chronicle)

[T]he Bush administration did more than any other in modern history to lay the groundwork for a much-needed immigrant integration policy. [...]

Under Bush's watch, the federal government, through the U.S. Office of Citizenship, started very quietly to do something about immigrant integration. Created when the Department of Homeland Security took over the nation's immigration apparatus in 2003, the Office of Citizenship has helped overhaul the citizenship test, publish preparation materials for the citizenship test in multiple languages, and created a Web site, www.welcometoUSA.gov, that contains information about everything from how to find an English language class to where to volunteer to help immigrants integrate.

But the Office of Citizenship has been working all too quietly. Rather than merely promoting citizenship and American civic identity, the office ought to implement initiatives that foster a form of integration that is mutually beneficial to immigrants and their adoptive country.

The Office of Citizenship should begin by helping immigrants learn English. If there is one thing on which people on all sides of the immigration debate agree, then it is that learning English is highly desirable. Though all evidence points toward high levels of English language acquisition over time, those who can't speak English suffer from diminished earning power, have a tougher time being involved in their children's lives, and can't fully participate in life in the United States.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 28, 2009 6:41 PM
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