Snyder's Side: Article 1
Immigration and Language
A lot recently has been said regarding the immigration and language issues here. To start this out, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I have absolutely no problem with people from other countries coming here. With the exception of a choice few, we all originated somewhere else. However, I do take exception to those who would think that just by getting here (read: illegally) they are entitled to all the rights and freedoms this country has to offer.
I read where a legislator wanted to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The reasoning is that they'll be more "responsible" and get educated to our driving laws, get insurance and thus have fewer accidents without it. That sounds like a great idea, but unless they tie liability insurance to driver's licenses it'll never happen. People living in this country legally have driver's licenses and don't get insurance, people living here legally drive without licenses. Now try and get a law passed that would require you to carry liability insurance on each driver and not each car and see how quick the insurance industry gets every lobbyist they ever thought of having in Topeka to shoot that one down. Until we start issuing insurance on the driver and not the car (along with strict penalties for driving without a license) we'll never see the end of uninsured drivers whether they're here legally or otherwise.
Many in this community want us to offer everything and anything to illegal immigrants. That is plain wrong. This country has laws, and most people out there expect to have to abide by them, like it or not. If we don't abide by the laws we should expect to suffer the consequences. I'm also sick and tired of hearing the "what would Jesus do?" thought process injected into this -- Jesus told his disciples to obey the laws of God and man. And we know what the laws of man are in this country. One of the reasons people come to this country is that we have laws that are enforced, you have rights here that are ignored in other countries. We expect our own people to abide by our laws and we should expect those wanting to come here from anywhere else to do the same, and that starts with immigrating legally. Simply put: you are welcome to come here, but you are expected to follow the law -- whether it's convenient or not.
Much has been said regarding this issue, some from purely selfish points. I also have no problem with people speaking other languages, some day I want to learn Spanish for the simple fact that many of my neighbors are more comfortable speaking Spanish and my learning it will make living with them more enjoyable. It doesn't bother me that they speak another language in public, there's some who speak English that you can hardly understand! I'm all for being multilingual -- but I also feel that too often it's only English-speaking people that are expected to be multilingual. For an example: a Kansan article once stated about a new business on Central Avenue: "an interpreter would be helpful." Many signs exist for businesses that are only in Spanish, and many are only in English. Since I don't know Spanish, how do I know what line of business that shop is in? I could be branded a racist if I don't patronize the establishment, but if I don't know what they offer in that shop, I'm not inclined to take my business there. The last thing I want to see is the example we have from our neighbors to the north: Canada has a province that requires any sign or label to have French on it. If it doesn't, you are in violation of the law. As is often the case, a little consideration goes a long way -- why not multilingual signs for all?.
Let's keep one thing in mind, however: although not a law per se, English is considered the language of choice. This country conducts it's official business in English, and no matter how many immigrants from south of here show up it's going to stay that way. I can say with complete certainty that when a young man or woman goes into the military they will definitely be greeted by a drill sergeant speaking very loud and coarse English, with no bilingual support provided. The United Nations requires that all international airports conduct air traffic control in English, did you know that? The argument goes on about how long it takes to learn English -- well, better get busy and stop complaining. Classes are available all over the place, the community college has an entire department devoted to just that: "English As A Second Language." From my government classes in school I remember that one of the requirements for citizenship used to be that you had to be able to speak and read English, do we still have that one?
America has always been known as one of the most diverse cultures in the world, and I feel privileged to live here in KCK where we have that and celebrate it with vigor. But I also know that we have to abide by the laws and accept that this is the United States -- we all have to "melt" a little for this "melting pot" to work.
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