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Speaking of Immigration...
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

After writing my column on immigration last week, an old colleague wrote and raised a fair point: It’s easy to say open borders equal freedom, but what do you do when immigrants show up and start voting for free handouts? Sure, it’s nice when our country’s not a prison—but do we really want foreigners coming in and voting our freedoms away?

I’m still trying to get over the idea that I would have “colleagues,” but his point is worth discussing. So let’s discuss.

When you get right down to it, a lot of people won’t admit it, but the main issue when it comes to immigration is language. The immigration debate has everything to do with foreign tongues, and every other issue stemming from this issue can be related directly back to that.

How do I know this? Just take a look around. Everywhere you look in American society, Spanish is becoming—or has become—our country’s second language. From phone prompts to canned goods to the sheer number of Spanish language channels on cable television, Spanish is clearly a cultural force in America. And the fact that businesses feel the need to cater to it proves it.

Why is this important? You only need to look at the language we use to describe the rise of this other language. It’s an “invasion,” we say. We’re being “invaded” on our southern border. Does anyone honestly think we’d be saying this if the northern border was the issue? (That excludes Quebec, by the way. I’m relatively sure we’d be twice as hostile to the French.)

We call the rise of Spanish as a rival to our English an “invasion,” because, in a real sense, this is what it feels like when a foreign country invades you. They bring their culture and values with them, and try to reshape you to keep you in line.

This brings me back to the thing about free handouts.

I don’t think anyone would argue America throws around its money like a stack of old coupons about to expire. When people come here from other countries speaking other languages, there are two ways to treat them: (1) we can welcome them in, teach them English, and—God willing—show them the ways of the Constitution; or (2) we can ostracize them and hope they find no work, at which point they’ll likely go home. When we live in a country that spends so much money on giving away free stuff, though, we dramatically reduce the incentive for people who don’t speak our language to leave.

As a result, we encourage foreign people to come here and live apart from us. No wonder we feel like we’re being invaded. We’re practically asking foreign countries to settle our land.

But as much as we complain about foreigners bringing in their foreign cultures, the real problem is the culture we’ve established that’s foreign to our founding ideals. Deep down, I think most Americans know America isn’t functioning like the Founders intended. But it’s easier to pin this on the Guatemalan mowing our lawn than to look in our own hearts and try to change ourselves.

Immigration didn’t ditch the gold standard. Immigration didn’t get us addicted to foreign oil. Immigration didn’t set up Social Security, turn elections into spectacles, or wage wars in the Middle East that we didn’t need and couldn’t afford. We did these things ourselves—even if immigrants helped us vote for them. God only knows how long it’ll be before the USA pulls a USSR. Will we blame the immigrants when it turns out, oops, we went bankrupt?

I’m an English-speaking American. And like many English-speaking Americans, I’ll be honest: I flunked Spanish. I don’t want this country to speak two languages, because, for me, that sounds like a lot of work.

But before we go complaining about Spanish-speaking people, it’s time to admit the “Spanish language problem” isn’t really a problem. It’s a decoy. As long as a whole separate culture is rising in our midst, we’ll always have someone else to blame for why we sit around whining and wasting our money. We’ll always have a group of people to point at and say, “If only they didn’t come here with their tasty foods and remarkable work ethic, our country would have survived.”

This is why language is at the heart of the immigration issue. We don’t understand why our Republic is crumbling, so we put it in words we can’t comprehend.

Jonathan David Morris is the author of Versus Nurture. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/readjdm.

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