Where does the notion of 9/11 fit into this conversation?
I don't even see where it's related, but --
Oh, I do.
-- but that's not the way the news thinks about it. It's a completely different, separate issue. I-uh, people coming to this country other than immigrants to work and -- they came here for one purpose, to inf-infiltrate and do harm. So I think it's a different-a different scenario completely.
Others on that? I mean, it's a different scenario, but yet, what has that done? What has been the impact on immigration law and immigration in this country?
It's become much str-much more difficult to come into th-and stay here. You can't just come in with a student visa, and if it l-lapses, you just stay put. Uh, they-they have tightened up their controls and their tracking of people. They just send them back.
I remember when, uh, the week after 9/11, I was taking a trip to Wilmington. I stopped at a gas station to get gas. And, uh, it was an Exxon station, and nobody came out to put gas or greet me. So I went up to one of the bays, and here were two, uh, Middle Eastern folk, to me looked like husband and wife. And they were afraid to come out, because they looked different. I might hold them accountable for 9/11. I never forgot that.
I think it's made a-made a big difference. Uh, it's much harder to get into the country now, whether as an immigrant or a visitor, particularly if you are, uh, an Arab. Um, I know -- uh, I attend professional meetings, and, uh, some of the Arab scientists I used to work with don't even bother to come anymore, because they-they can't get a visa. It's just too much hassle, uh, although they may have been educated here and gone back to their country. Uh, it-it-it's just so much-so much more difficult now that a lot of goodwill overseas is being lost.
I think it's also opened up a lot of prejudices now that we might not have had, or different kinds of prejudice, I should say, now, you know, with the 9/11. And, you know, now we'll ac-like with immigration, now we'll accept a-an educated British man, but we won't accept a-an Arab or even an unskilled Mexican. You know, it's like where do you draw the line with that, um -- that topic as far as -- y-you just have to deal with the, uh -- the whole thing of prejudice with -- if you were to limit immigration.
Should we demand that everyone speak English?
Well, I think --
This will be like an auction. This is a pop quiz.
I-I think --
Everybody raise your hand here. All in favor.
D-should we demand it before they can come in? No, I don't-I don't think that that-that has, you know, sh-can't demand it now. I think they will learn, because they-they'll need to learn to pursue a career, to pursue trying to make a living. You know, they -- I think they'll need to learn it. And as we -- o-o-others have said, you know, the next generation will have it, 'cause they-they are attending schools. But then go-go back to what you had said before, um, sh-about them coming just to get educated or coming for a particular purpose. Well, that's -- the reason people come was for a particular purpose, whether they intended to stay or not. You know, some of them wanted to go home. They didn't go home. Some do go home. Um, you know, they-they do a career. They go home. And they can live a better life that way. Um, I've made a living out of going to other countries and pl-ply-plying my trade in what I had learned. Um, but then I came back home, too. So, I mean, just -- not too long ago, I-I was in Brazil. That's where I was making some of my living there. And I was up in New York at 9/11. And it was very tough. And -- you know, t-being around, j-jus-just seeing the things. Uh, so it does have an impact. But I think the-uh, the impact -- I'm just kind of rambling here -- is -- a lot of the impact is in the-the financial burden th-that is falling on the government now, because they do want to put in the extra precautions that -- I don't know if those precautions would-would have prevented the 9/11 anyway.
The-the question th-it's -- of making people speak English, I-I-I think, is very prejudicial. Um, in my line of work, I deal with a lot of Hispanic families. Uh, it's very unique. The children act as translators. Uh, and they've only been here for a couple of years, and they speak English. The kids -- we-we allow them -- we were allowing them to have translators in there, because they were bilingual, thinking they'd be more, uh, comfortable in their native language. And that's not the case at all. Kids that have been here from five and up -- if they've been speaking English in schools for two or three years, they're more comfortable speaking English. To say that a parent that comes here has to lear-has to speak English -- obviously, it would be to their benefit, um, as-as you said before. I mean, it w-i-it's just-it's just going to help so much. Um, but these people are here, at least in this community, the-the Hispanic community -- you work -- some of them w-work 16 hours a day. And there's ju-there simply isn't the time. Um, it is a problem. But, you know, the next generation's getting it very quickly. And-and, uh, uh, it will work itself out.
Uh, okay, it would be nice for immigrants to-to learn English, but perhaps those of us who are already here -- it would be nice if we learned another language to speak to them in their own language. And that's something that's not-not very, uh, much emphasized, uh, i-in America. Um, in many other countries, people routinely speak two, three, four languages.
But on the flip side of that, if -- I don't know if anyone's ever been to France. Um, y-you won't make it unless you speak French. I mean, you-you just -- they'll look at you cross-eyed, even if they --
-- do, you know, understand you. So I don't think it's too unreasonable to expect people to come to this country and learn English when, you know, if you -- if I was to go to, say, Germany -- and to really integrate into their, uh, country, I would have to learn German. So I don't think it's too unreasonable or too prejudicial to expect that of immigrants.
No, I think they should. But perhaps we could also, from our side --
-- learn --
-- another language.
Oh, definitely. A-a-and, too, like you said, you go to Germany, and you can get by speaking English as a tourist, because so many people do speak it. And that's unr-I-I-I mean, that's unreal here. Like a German couldn't come here and speak German.You know, no o-they wouldn't get by that way, so --
But to enact laws that say that you must -- or English only -- uh, I-I just think that's wrong. You know, I-I-I think that sends a wrong message. I think it's very negative. And that kind of contempt breeds more contempt.
Not so much English only, but English also. You know, you can speak Spanish, but learn the language too, so you communicate. Um, and I agree that the public schools should be offering or teaching our students a foreign language, 'cause that's the time they need to learn it. And they would make, you know, much better citizens if they did learn that when they were younger.
I-I have to agree. In -- I've been on two sides of this. In 1964, I worked in my grandfather's cannery, which hired, uh, migrant immigrants to bring in the crops in the summertime. So I was the only one who took it upon myself to learn Spanish so that I could communicate with those folks and help them assimilate into the small community, that-that 300 -- we had 300, uh, people living in our small town. And so that was quite an impact. On the other side of that, when I became mayor here i-in Georgetown, um, there was some issues that basically all stemmed from communications. Um, a-and if the people w-here would learn, uh -- and it doesn't have to be a lot, but just learn some Spanish or learn some way to communicate, um, because they use the nonability to communicate as an excuse to widen the differences, I think.
You know, I-I, uh -- in the last few years, uh, I did some farm work for my family. And we hire immigrant Mexicans. And, uh, they speak very little English, and I speak no Spanish. And we had no problem at all, you know -- a-and understanding, communicating with each other and-and-and actually holding a conversation. I spoke in English and they in Spanish. But, uh, you know, you-you don't talk about building rockets or anything like that. But, you know, the job that you're about, you get done.
And I-I'm just -- I -- well, about what you said. Some folks -- what do they do with th-with the language barrier? They use it or they use the --
Use that as a tool to widen the differences between -- it's a we/them type of thing. Uh, you know, it's-i-i-i-is that cl-not clear?
Well, I-I think something that, um, I have noticed is, um, here in Georgetown – I’ve kind of been noticing the Hispanic communities in the other towns, as opposed to Georgetown. And in Georgetown, my observation is that, because we have lots of bilingual people and lots of bilingual services, that a large percentage of the town is more dependent and is less likely to learn English. Whereas in Lewes or Rehoboth or Selbyville or Seaford, they have to learn English, because there isn’t the support system there. I’m not saying that’s good or bad. But I’ve just noticed people outside of Georgetown speak more English, the immigrants, recent immigrants. People in Georgetown spend – tend to speak less, because they have more access to bilingual services or a more close-knit community between church and work and stores and things like that. They can kind of operate in their own language, and they’re not forced to speak it as much.
[Ally], were you going to say something?
Well, I just want to say I agree with you, because I think if-if the Spanish-speaking network, as it grows -- and it's growing compared to a hundred years ago when immigrants came over -- the reason -- the necessity to speak English is lessened. But I think people who want to come here want to speak -- it's a hard language to learn --
-- for people. And y-y-you teach it, so you know how difficult it is. But I want to recount a story. Um, in Georgetown, there was an event called caroling on the square. And I did not attend that event, but I heard from some people who did attend it. And it's Christmas carols. The first hour or so was all Spanish songs. And the people who attended it came back. And you were speaking of c-feelings of contempt. It was like, "We had to wait an hour before we could sing along with our Christmas carols." And there was resentment from, you know, the native Georgetowns, the American-speaking people, about that. And I hear that a lot from pockets of people. They go, "Well, you know, they got to come over here, and they have to learn how to speak English. This is-this is the country they came to." And I don't agree with that. I think it's proven that, within a generation, the children of immigrants are speaking English. But those kinds of -- when those kinds of events happen, there is resentment from people towards the immigrants.
Well, there's been a lot of conversation around the group tonight about the children speak English, and if we just wait for the second generation, we're okay. Speaking from an education point of view, the federal government doesn't say that the educational system can wait for the next generation. We're held accountable right now for, um, their development. And, you know, the federal government is passing laws, No Child -- the No Child Left Behind Act says these kids have to perform as well as every other child in the school. And so from my perspective as an educator, it's very, very difficult, um, to conference with and work with immigrant parents to ensure that these children do acquire the knowledge and the skills that they need to-to perform well. And quite frankly, I'm affected, because it's my job that's on the line if they don't, right now, with the climate in this state and with the climate in this country. And so i-it's a very awkward and uncomfortable place for me to be as a teacher.
This country is so huge and spread out, and there are so many facets to our society that both systems are at work. Now, Fred and others said earlier on that the way to get ahead would be to learn the language. And I'm sure that that's true if you're going into business or industry. And yet, at the same time, there are many communities -- well, I'll speak of New Hampshire, where my wife and I used to live -- many communities where only French is spoken. And they get along very well. And they go to a-a French hospital. Uh, if there's going to be a town meeting -- and on occasion, I had to go to such town meetings and give speeches. And they said, "By the way, you won't be accepted unless you speak French." So that was done. So this system is existing, and they seem to do very well. Um, I don't know that we can exclude one system at the expense of the other.
Okay. If you had to put your finger on-on -- we-we've, you know, kind of worked this approach fairly well. I mean, and so what are the -- what are some of the tensions embedded in this choice? And b-I guess by what I'm looking at -- if we demand English speaking -- you know, that-that they all have to learn English, what's the flip side of that? What happens because we do that? And look at some of the other things we talked about.
I feel that it's, uh -- it's better -- it's a better choice to have, uh, English as the main language, because just think. If -- now, when you have Hispanics, they're speaking Spanish. But suppose you have infiltration of other immigrants. When we talk about immigrants, we're talking about all the other countries. We're not -- we just happen to have an abundance of Hispanics. What if we have an abundance of Iraqis coming over here? You know, are we going to say, "Okay, we're going to change to Iraqi language." We need a basis. And we need to stick to it, that it will be, uh, used for all immigrants, you know, not just for Hispanics. Because, uh, I know there's a lot of Haitians that are trying to get in the country, uh, that -- we're turning them back. If we say we're a free country, ho-why are we turning back the Haitians and other immigrants that are wanting to come in the country? And ju-we're just picking and choosing who we want to come in as immigrants. We're supposed to be a free country. So we have to set some, uh, standards. Either we're going to, uh, do English, or we're going to either -- eventually, maybe five years or 10 years down the road, we're going to be Iraqis, or we're going to be some other language. So we're going to have to set a standard that's going to be used for all immigration. We cannot lose our heritage.
Okay. That's one flip side. If you don't do it, where do you stop? Okay. Others? Others on some of the things that we've talked about?
I think you run the risk of the individual, uh, cultures losing their identities when you, uh, demand that they all speak English. Because as you said, I'm a second generation. I'm a daughter of an immigrant and, uh, Spanish-speaking parents. And my Spanish is not fluent. And my son's Spanish is going to be even less. So you -- I think like we run the risk of losing our-our heritage from where we came from and, you know, kind of becoming a homogenized society, everyone speaking the same language and --
And just -- I mean, can you have it both ways?
Why not? I mean, I-I don't -- I th-a part of it is, I guess, the size of the community on-on how-how they assimilate or how they-they grew. B-because, you know, as I said earlier, y-g-go up to New York City, and you can go from Italian to German to-to --
-- Korean to every language. And you go into, uh, uh, New Jersey, you know, Fort Lee, New Jersey. I mean, that's all Korean, all the shops. There's hardly an English sign on it. But they do f-they do fine. And for me, it was, y-you know, a-a learning -- I enjoyed it. But that's because I enjoy trying different types of food, meeting with different people, seeing how their -- you know, their-their cultures are.[Cross talk]
Yeah. And th-and that's kind of what I was getting at --
-- when you were in that community.
But it's a larger -- y-you're-you're-you're talking about a larger area. Uh, and New York has more customs, because that's where, you know, the most immigrants came. Of course, my grandfather came to Massachusetts and ran away to New York, but a-aside from that. Um, you know, so -- and-and Georgetown -- you know, it's a smaller community. You're-you're talking of, you know -- uh, uh, it's-it's probably harder on the local economy or harder on the people. And because a lot of people in Georgetown had n-not left the state of Delaware -- there are some that have never left Delaware. Um, you know, so --