12/12/12 — Immigrants: In discussions, we need to remember those who do it right

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Immigrants: In discussions, we need to remember those who do it right

Not everyone who is in the English as a Second Language classes at Wayne Community College wants to become an American citizen.

Some of them simply want to learn the language of the nation they are temporarily calling home, understanding, in part, that it is a sign of respect to the country that has welcomed them.

But some of those people who are learning the language they will need to function in American society are doing so because they have dreams of becoming official American citizens someday.

And as we continue our discussions as a nation about illegal immigration and what should happen next, we need to remember that not everyone sneaks across a border or ignores the law.

Some people do it right -- and want to become official citizens of this nation and are doing the work to make that happen.

This nation was founded by immigrants, people who were looking for better lives for themselves and their children. It would be anti-American to look at immigrants as anything but vital parts of this nation's past, present and future.

But there should be a difference made between those who are applying to be legal citizens and waiting their turn, and those who are hiding in the shadows.

We need to make it possible for illegal immigrants to do it the right way -- to become legal or to get temporary work cards that allow them to stay in the United States for a specified amount of time.

They should not get preferential treatment, but they should get the chance, as long as they follow the rules. We owe that to those who are and have been waiting in line.

And there is nothing wrong with asking an immigrant or potential citizen to learn the language of the country they are calling home. It is the best way to be able to function. English as a Second Language classes are vital to that goal.

As we continue to look at the issue, we need to remember that the American story is full of people just like this who are looking to follow their dreams.

And we also have to remember that becoming a U.S. citizen is an honor -- one that should be earned, not gifted.

Published in Editorials on December 12, 2012 10:55 AM