Monday, April 21, 2008

Frederick NewsPost: Legal immigrants: The forgotten people?

Legal immigrants: The forgotten people?

By Don Kornreich

When was the last time you heard about something being done just for legal immigrants?
The New York Times has reported that San Francisco is starting an advertising campaign aimed at a specific target group: illegal immigrants. The advertisements will be in various languages, but all will carry the same message: "You are safe here." The mayor's campaign is fully supported by the police chief who said "We do not work on enforcing immigration laws, only public safety to prevent crime."

San Francisco is, after all, a sanctuary city. The mayor and city supervisors want to assure illegal immigrants that San Francisco will not report them to federal immigration authorities. Instead, the city's approach will be to thwart the application of -- and to the extent possible, nullify -- federal immigration laws and enforcement programs, thereby bestowing a special status on illegal immigrants along with providing them various taxpayer-funded services.

To be fair, most cities (including San Francisco) do provide assistance to legal immigrants, including those who want to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Naturalization is the process by which a person who has legally immigrated to the United States can acquire citizenship, after fulfilling the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

These requirements include residency and physical presence in the United States; a knowledge and understanding of U. S. history and government; good moral character; attachment to the principles of the U. S. Constitution; a favorable disposition toward the United States; and, an ability to read, write, and speak English.

Turning to Frederick, a March 31 FNP article concerning teaching English to immigrants describes the efforts of various local public and private institutions to improve English speaking skills. The article makes it clear that the programs are available to all immigrants. One administrator said: "We don't ask questions about immigration status, we accept everybody."

However, in addition, the article asserts that "Many immigrants are now nervous about driving in Frederick County, since the sheriff's office trained some deputies to enforce federal immigration laws." Just who are these "nervous" immigrants: those who are here legally and learning English to improve their ability to become part of our evolving society and vibrant culture; or, those who are here illegally and not partaking of our society and culture, but, nonetheless, availing themselves of myriad entitlement programs and services?

It is time for those, whether in the city government of San Francisco or the public and private institutions of our city and county, to accept that immigrants fall into two very different categories: legal and illegal. Those who are here legally should be helped to assimilate into our society and culture and attain (when sought) U. S. citizenship, including learning to read, write and speak English.

Furthermore, legal immigrants should not be lumped together with illegal immigrants to satisfy some political or other agenda. Those who seek to help immigrants, regardless of their status, have an obligation to make it clear to legal immigrants that they have nothing to fear from federal immigration laws and enforcement programs that apply to illegal immigrants.
Finally, those who choose to support illegal immigrants should not do so in a manner that is inconsistent with the interests of legal immigrants. For to do so is fear mongering, and denies legal immigrants the respect, dignity and assistance they are entitled to under our federal system of government and our laws.


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