We’ve got a brouhaha brewing in Krum, TX. Sounds like trouble in River City, folks. What on earth are we going to do about those people who live here but don’t speak English? Isn’t that just terribly rude and lazy? After all, we are educating their children at taxpayer expense.
And yes, the above statement is a bit tongue-in-cheek.
I’ve just re-read the letters to the editor in the Krum Star the last couple of weeks. In doing so, I sense that two distinct issues are being confused.
The first issue concerns language: there are people in our community who do not speak English. The second issue concerns illegal immigration. Evidence suggests that the majority of illegal immigrants are indeed from Spanish speaking countries.
But it doesn’t necessarily follow that someone who speaks only Spanish is in this country illegally. And if we as a community don’t separate those two issues, we’re going to end up being known as a place that doesn’t just lack hospitality for certain people groups, but one that is more actively hostile to them.
In my opinion, when we become hostile to the sojourner, to the immigrant, to the one who has come to the US to try to make a life that is better than the one being left behind, we have lost the essence of being citizens of the United States. Not to mention those who violate basic tenants of Scripture.
I know that I have my own bias here. My daughter-in-law is from Bogota, Colombia. My son met her when he was assigned to work there for a period of time by the consulting company he works for. He had gone to the trouble of learning Spanish several years before, so was comfortable working in South America.
Furthermore, unless we come directly from Native American stock. all of us are descendants of immigrants. As it happens, some of my ancestors actually came over on the Mayflower. But they were still immigrants.
And I’m betting only a few who came on the Mayflower went to the trouble to learn the languages of the Native Americans they encountered and upon whose good will they were dependent.
I’m not excusing laziness in learning languages. But the laziest people in the world for learning new languages are those of us who live in the United States. I was recently in Montreal, Canada. Montreal is part of French Canada. All signs are in French. Everyone speaks French. I don’t. I can read it, but I can’t speak it. At all. If people there hadn’t been hospitable enough to speak English, I would have been out on a limb–with no one to rescue me. Couldn’t have given instructions to a taxi driver, done the marketing, toured the Notre Dame Cathedral, talked with the pediatrician who was treating my grandson, or ordered a meal in a restaurant.
Illegal immigration is indeed a problem. But we’ve also got one. Let’s talk about some possible solutions.