Lanterns: DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? A TALE OF TWO IMMIGRANTS

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DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? A TALE OF TWO IMMIGRANTS

According to the latest study, sixty-three percent of all Hispanic immigrants coming into the United States don't speak or read English.  The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) published a report showing that of all the immigrants entering the U.S., 41 percent scored at or below “functional illiteracy,” which is the lowest level of English literacy known as “below basic.”

Of all immigrants entering the United States, the lowest-percentage group to speak, read, and write English efficiently, are Hispanic immigrants. This is due, in part, to the fact that many Hispanics gather in small enclaves of communities which speak only Spanish.

The South of the Border Communication Gap

Compared with other immigrants from around the world, those coming from Mexico and Latin America are least likely to acclimate to American culture.

“Hispanic immigrants struggle the most with English literacy,” CIS divulged from its study. “Their average score falls at the 8th percentile, and 63 percent are below basic.”

There is a huge disparity between Hispanic immigrants and non-Hispanic immigrants. Non-Hispanic immigrants from other parts of the world including the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern European countries score at a significantly less, (23 percent), “below basic” literacy level.

“Most Hispanics living in the U.S. who profess to be fluent in English actually aren’t," said Dr. Jason Richwine –  an independent public policy analyst based in Washington, D.C.

Richwine points out “For Hispanic immigrants, self-reported English-speaking ability overstates actual literacy. The average literacy score of Hispanic immigrants who self-report that they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’ falls at the 18th percentile, and 44 percent are below basic.”

Another issue to look at is that while literacy in English is a major problem for those entering the U.S. from South of the border, it is an even bigger problem for those who have lived in the U.S for many years. A significant number of Hispanics who have lived in America for a good part of their adult lives are illiterate in English.

“Even long-time residents struggle with English literacy,” explained Richwine, who is also a contributing writer for National Review. “Immigrants who first arrived in the United States more than 15 years ago score at the 20th percentile, and 43 percent are below basic.”

This should not be the case. Some say the public school system is to blame. They argue that immersion rather than focusing on English as a second language class is the answer. The immersion theory is that students who are placed in English classes and are forced to learn the language quickly by necessity, while students who are coddled by ESL classes never actually learn the language entirely.

He also emphasized how low-skill immigrants’ difficulty with literacy spans far beyond their immigrant generation, noting that 67 percent of Hispanic immigrants who entered the U.S. more than 15 years ago are still not able to function in English.

“The children of Hispanic immigrants score at the 34th percentile, and 22 percent are below basic,” Richwine continued. “In addition, just 5 percent of second generation Hispanics have ‘elite’ literacy skills, compared to 14 percent of natives overall.”

The author of the literacy report argued increasingly accommodating the misnomer of multiculturalism in our culture is to blame for the strikingly high illiteracy rates among Hispanics.

“The big problem, especially regarding Hispanic immigrants, is that there are so many other people speaking Spanish that they can live basically their entire regular lives at work, at home, in the media they consume – it can all be in Spanish,” Richwine expressed to WND in an interview. “And so, when you even further accommodate that, when they have to deal with the government or they have to deal with a business, they go to Home Depot because they need something, they see that all the signs at those kinds of places are also in Spanish – that can only further discourage people from learning English.”

Trump Encourages Independence

President Donald Trump recently brought up America’s problem with new immigrants who cannot make it on their own – a problem rooted in the literacy gap.

“The time has come for new immigration rules that say … those seeking immigration into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump declared, according to Fox News.

President Trump's new policy would give immigrants more incentive to become self-sufficient under his administration. This is something the Liberal Left sees as unfair, or even cruel. In fact, President Trump’s proposal would build on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This allows federal authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival,” according to Fox News.

Many of that law’s provisions were rolled back during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, but Trump’s proposal would make more categories of federal benefits off-limits to immigrants. In the past, states have the authority to determine eligibility for local public assistance programs. Even though pro-immigration Democrats work to promote illegal immigration and deter assimilation through programs that are Spanish-speaking friendly, illegal immigrants and foreigners with nonimmigrant visas are not legally able (for the most part) to receive social benefits. 

President Trump wants to make sure such regulations are followed by state and federal officials not because he hates immigrants, but because he believes the melting pot theory is what made America great. 

We are united as Americans by our common language and our belief that we all have the opportunity to become whatever we want to be once we are here. Trump is old school in that he believes we are stronger as one America rather than factions of people. If people come to this country, never learn English, and quickly become wards of the state through social services, then those people will never accomplish their true potential.

Promoting illiteracy

Our literacy numbers and trends indicate that the U.S. is doing a lousy job of making sure new immigrants are fluent in English.

“Newer immigrants are likely more skilled when they arrive than were previous waves], but the point is that even immigrants who have been here for more than 15 years still have rather low literacy scores, which indicates that they are not becoming fluent the way we might expect them to,” said Richwine.

The research proves that children who are born in the U.S. to immigrants see much higher literacy rates. Among second-generation immigrants, only 15 percent are functionally illiterate in English, matching the level among all U.S.-born people with two U.S.-born parents; however, Hispanics still lag behind in this regard, as 24 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics with two U.S.-born parents are still functionally illiterate. Language assimilation, at least, is not happening as fast as some of the Census Bureau data would suggest it does:

‘There’s really no problem here because once you get to the second generation, 80 or 90 percent of people are saying they speak English very well or they speak only English at home, and so there’s really no problem.’ But what this literacy test data indicates is that for Hispanic immigrants, in particular, their self-assessment of their English language ability is really an overestimate of their actual ability.”

Curbing immigration would help to alleviate the literacy problem, which would deter ethnic enclaves from continuing. Instead of being Spanish-speaker friendly, Richwine stressed that the U.S. should be promoting the use English more aggressively.

“It would mean declaring English as the official language of the United States,” Richwine added. “It would mean getting rid of the rule about having to have ballot papers in different languages if there’s a certain percentage of foreign speakers in that area. It would involve politicians not pandering to Spanish speakers by giving Spanish-language speeches.”

It would also mean going back to immersion as a means of learning and teaching English to Hispanics. Richwine concluded with this advice to officials in Washington:

“We need politicians to say, ‘You know what, people can speak whatever language they want in their homes, but in terms of the civic language in the United States, the language in which we do business is English, and we’re not going to give speeches in Spanish, we’re not going to put out campaign materials in Spanish, because this is a country where we communicate politically in English.’”

Moreover, as a child of first generation Spanish parents, I’m glad I learned English the way I did. I remember being afraid, and not understanding anything that was being said, and then in no time, I understood everything. I was 5.  If it were not for immersion in the classroom, I would never have learned English. Thank God my mother had the presence of mind to say “No I will not allow my daughter to be in an ESL class. I want her to learn English.” 

Thanks, Mom.

 

 

Written by Rosie OnTheRight

Rosie grew up watching CSpan she is a contributing writer for silenceisconsent.net, libertyeagle.com

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