Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A disservice to immigrants

While visiting with friends in California last week, I was taken aback by this ballot cover. Yes, you guessed it, I do not approve of multi-lingual official documents, especially not with something as important as voting. Before you jump to conclusions about my possible racist, bigoted, narrow-minded, etc. motives, keep in mind that as an immigrant myself I have an informed perspective an this matter from personal experience.

Before and after I immigrated to the US, yes, legally, it never occurred to me to expect anyone to speak my native language nor did I expect official government services to offer information in anything but English. After all, English is the language of America and critical to a newcomer's success in the "land of opportunity."

No citizenship act is more important that voting, but if you are not sufficiently fluent in English to understand your ballot, how could anyone possibly vote responsibly? By coddling immigrants, new and old, with services and instructions in their native language, we deprive them of the incentive to acquire critical English language skills to competite successfully in the job market and take advantage of the opportunities so many other immigrants enjoyed before them.