9/5/07

All languages spoken here

All languages spoken here (by Ruth Kunstadter, NorthJersey.Com - 9.5.07)

THE CURRENT immigration debate is not only dividing our nation, it is also threatening one of the most valuable -- and already endangered -- resources for the future of this country: the linguistic and cultural expertise of our immigrant communities.

Anti-immigrant fever is growing at an alarming rate. U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo recently blamed the horrific murders in Newark on lax immigration policies, and hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan have gained new energy by retraining their sights on immigrants.

We won't get very far in the new global economy -- or in the democratic beliefs we seek to promote abroad -- as a monolingual and xenophobic nation.

According to Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, "We haven't had this kind of intensity and widespread, deep-seated anger for almost 100 years."

Not surprisingly, that anger is resulting in discrimination against all immigrants -- not just those who may be undocumented -- and, increasingly, against the languages they speak.

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