Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jeff Edelstein: Language should not be a barrier

Listen: Unless you’re name is John Wandering Wolf Who Fishes in Clear Stream or something, you’ve got a pretty flimsy leg to stand on when it comes to all manner of discussion when it comes to immigration.

I mean really: How did you get here? Someone in your family immigrated here. (Big and obvious exception: Unless your relatives came over by force in the slave trade. Subject for another day.)

But if someone in your family came to America by choice, there’s a pretty good chance that person didn’t speak English when they arrived on our shores.

While I don’t know for sure, I’m pretty positive three of my four grandparents didn’t speak the language when they arrived, and I’m almost certain none of their parents — my great-grandparents — spokeuh da English when they came to America.

But they learned. You kind of have to if you want to “make it” in America.

And isn’t that why anyone comes to this country? To make it?

From the 1600’s to Ellis Island to today, America offers opportunity out the wazoo. So much opportunity, people were — are — risking death to come here.

(Slightly off-topic: I don’t understand people who hate the idea of immigrants sneaking into America. I mean, these are people willing to belly crawl through a desert for days on end to get here and work and make a better life for themselves. Isn’t that what we want in America? Hard working people who want to make a better life?)

To make “speaking English” a mandatory hurdle prior to immigrating to America — or for just living in America — just doesn’t make sense. Once here, believe me, immigrants want to learn how to speak the language. And the best way to learn any language is to simply be immersed in it.

Besides, this argument may be past-due anyway. Google Translate, anyone?
No such thing as not being able to speak the language as long as you’ve got a wifi connection.

Read Jeff Edelstein every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at, and



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