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Melting Pot or Mess - Essay Example

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In the years since September 11, 2001, what had already been a predominant sentiment against immigration received the validation of fear: these foreigners seething into our country's borders might not only be taking jobs away from hard-working Americans, so the argument went, they might also be planning to murder thousands of those Americans…
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Melting Pot or Mess
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Download file to see previous pages To some, it may seem sensible to tighten American borders, to remove those from the country who are here illegally, and to enforce a stricter sense of security throughout the nation. However, there is no realistic way to do this. Immigration foes who realize this have then put forth another, easier barrier against the foreign hordes: proposing legislation to make English the official language of the United States.
Mauro Mujica is one of the supporters of the movement to make English the American language. He cited in his research polls that show that, throughout the developed world, over 90% of adults believe that learning English is necessary for children to succeed. Because English is the "language of business, higher education, diplomacy, aviation, the Internet, [and] science"(Mujica 1) among other fields, it is something that every child must learn. Mujica asserts two reasons why such an already pervasive language should be made the official language of the United States.
First, governments that provide bilingual services ultimately create linguistic ghettos that immigrants cannot escape. Mujica cites the 2000 census results that showed over 21 million Americans classified as "limited English proficient" - almost 8% of the population (Mujica 2). When children grow up in homes where they are not required to learn English, they struggle receiving a basic elementary education in American schools, and are relegated to the economic opportunities left to those who cannot speak English.
Second, the cost of multilingual accommodation is an unfair burden on the rest of society. Mujica cites the billions of dollars spent annually on multilingual education; the fact that 15% of Los Angeles County's election budget goes to multilingual ballots and poll workers; traffic accidents caused by foreign drivers not understanding English instructions and warnings (Mujica 3-4). It would seem that accommodating other languages is not an option that Americans can afford.
However, given the fact that immigrants are not going to just up and leave, just like their predecessors from Italy, Germany, Ireland and Poland did not leave in the face of prejudice in the early 1900's, it can be argued that denying speakers of other languages access to government services could be even more costly than accommodating them is. Thomas Ricento agrees with Mujica's assertion that English is the language of success: he asserts that immigrants want to learn English as a supplement to their own languages, not as a replacement. He sees the linguistic enclaves not as ghettos but as nurturing communities providing a link between the old culture and the American one, much like the old neighborhoods in Northeastern cities that used to be separated by varying European backgrounds (Ricento 3). Additionally, while short-term social costs might decline if multilingual services were removed, the longer-term costs would skyrocket. Immigrants would not leave the country but would instead let health problems worsen, leading to higher medical costs; their children might be forced out of their schools but would then cause problems later on as unemployed, uneducated adults (Ricento 5).
Governor William Dempster Hoard of Wisconsin had this to say about the right of children to education in English: "The child ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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