Friday, February 9, 2007
In "Latinos lob a few words at governor Leaders label remarks on immigration, heard on tapes, as offensive," Anna Gorman in the L.A. Times (here) reports that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's off-the-cuff comments in recently released audio recordings about illegal immigration and the unwillingness of Mexicans to assimilate into American society have drawn angry responses this week from Latino community and political leaders. "I made an effort," the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger told aides last April in conversations that touched on assimilation. "But the Mexicans don't make that effort." The governor also used an expletive to disparage the 1986 federal law that granted asylum to more than 2 million illegal immigrants.
A recent study (here) discussed in the Christian Science Monitor also touches on issues of immigrant assimilation. US workers may be significantly less literate in 2030 than they are today. The reason: Most baby boomers will be retiring and a large wave of less-educated immigrants will be moving into the workforce. This downward shift in reading and math skills suggests a huge challenge for educators and policymakers in the future, according to a new report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Restrictionists could read this study as supporting immigration restrictions and increased border enforcement. However, a more sensible response to the report, as well as the Governor's fears about lack of immigrant assimilation, would be to facilitate integration and assimilation, as suggested in the 1990s by the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform headed by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Investment, for example, in expanded English as a Second Language programs, which often are overenrolled in many cities, makes more sense than spending billions on border enforcement measures with little, if any, likelihood of success.