“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”
Engraved on the Statue of Liberty
In view of the present inhumane approach to immigration, I’d like to clarify my concept of how America might be able to more willingly accept refugees whose culture and language are different from our own. Sixty-seven million people are refugees in the world at this time. No one abandons their home except in desperation. The world has never dealt with anything of this magnitude before. As the crisis evolves, so must our vision of a solution. We must redefine our entire concept of our border policy.
I think it is essential for refugees to be able to assimilate into their host country as easily and as soon as possible. America needs a study to ascertain how many people this country can assimilate per annum. And it would not be unreasonable to decide how many, and what trades or skills the country needs.
In my opinion, if people are allowed to concentrate in the same area, forming their own communities, it makes assimilation more difficult and sometimes takes several generations. There are communities in America, and particularly in the larger cities, where several generations of immigrants barely speak English, and certainly do not speak it well. Since the language of the United States is English, I believe firmly that all public schools should teach only in English, with a mandatory second language for every student.
After all, English is the language of our country, and I believe it should be preserved as such. Universal language and public education are essential for assimilation and for the life of a democracy.
Therefore, I would have new arrivals to the United States spend a certain amount of time in some kind of border facility, such as a university where they would have an intensive English Course. They would also learn about the history of America, understand the constitution, and understand the social contract under which they will be living, and the laws that will effect them. People’s lives can be improved when they are provided with the necessary skills and knowledge.
We probably should have trade schools, offered not just to refugees, but throughout the country for our own citizens, to help people adjust when they are forced to change jobs or trades. Trade schools and training would help people to make a quicker adjustment and enable them to get jobs.
To assimilate people as quickly as possible they need language skills and jobs, enabling them to enter the workforce and pay taxes, which is part of citizenship.
Even without Mr. Trump’s harassment at the borders, it’s extremely complicated to enter this country legally. And after finally entering, it is difficult to work legally. An Employment Authorization Document is needed to enter the workforce. In order to even request this employment, one must file a complex application which costs 410 U.S. dollars. It can take up to 150 days to process the papers. Given the desperate conditions under which people arrive, and the additional cost of employment papers, people have to be able to work as soon as possible. It takes too long to receive permission to work. The cost and the length of time together are almost by themselves an invitation to illegal entry and illegal employment.
In order to expedite successful assimilation, newcomers who enter the country should be dispersed, rather than be allowed to huddle together and form their own exclusive communities. For a period of time it might benefit them to be dispersed to less populated parts of the country where there is need for workers. I believe that existing local American communities would be more likely to accept and be helpful to smaller groups of people if they don’t feel overwhelmed when faced with what they perceive as an invasion of their communities where their jobs and culture are threatened.
Today’s problems are enormous and desperately require a new outlook, a new vision.