Immigrant Handouts: Just No!

Immigrant Handouts: Just No!

Immigrant Handouts: Just No!

Look, I’m an immigrant. My family came to this country with practically nothing, and even though my parents both had advanced engineering degrees, they knew no English when we came over here, and they had to learn from scratch.

I had to learn from scratch as well. I knew three languages when we came here, but English wasn’t one of them. I was a kid, and I was still in what they call the language development stage, so learning English wasn’t as much of a challenge as it was for my parents, who were in their late 30s and early 40s at the time. While they spoke probably between 3-5 languages each by the time they reached the United States, English was not one of them, and it was difficult. I remember the struggle.

When we came here, there were no handouts. We came here legally, and there was a maze of paperwork to navigate, certifying that we wouldn’t be a burden to taxpayers, confirming that we had “sponsors” who would take us in and ensure we wouldn’t be living on the dole. There was extensive health screening to ensure we didn’t have tuberculosis or any other communicable disease that would make us a threat to the population. There were background checks to ensure we didn’t have ties to adversarial governments or transnational criminal organizations.

Immigrating here wasn’t easy.

Nothing worth having ever is. America is hard, and it should be hard. Nothing worth having should simply be handed over, and yet this is what clueless politicians want for illegal aliens and entitled foreigners, who come to the United States for opportunities they wouldn’t have had elsewhere, but end up demanding goods and services, because if not…

…RACISM!

Natch.

You don’t want to provide bilingual services to illegal aliens? Racist!

You haven’t learned Spanish? Screw you! You’re fired.

Your crew speaks Spanish, and they haven’t bothered to learn English? You’d better have that skill!

You’d better have spent money on bilingual textbooks for your schools, you racists!

You’d better spend taxpayer money on driver tests in Spanish, you racists!

You’d better not discriminate against immigrants who can’t speak English, even though that skill may be critical to performing those job skills!

We provide everything to immigrants – from bilingual education to special services in their own languages, sometimes spending millions in taxpayer dollars to ensure things are as convenient for them as possible.

But that convenience does both the immigrants and the country a huge disservice.

When I went to school, I was placed in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program. This wasn’t a translation service from English to Spanish. This was literally an intensive program, comprised of kids of all ages from all over the globe, and all we did was learn English.

The teacher didn’t rely on other students to provide translation to the newer kids like in this model.

By the idealistic standards of the International Academy, an experimental high school program for young immigrants who do not speak English, Haskins’s class that fall morning was a success. A second-year student with limited skills had helped a new classmate who had none, building his own self-esteem and drawing her into a friendly learning environment.

No.

For about a year, we did nothing but learn English. There was no math, no science, no art, no social studies, and no gym. We learned English, and that’s it. I got about four hours of homework per night. I sat at the kitchen table writing out grammar exercises until late at night, my hand cramping, and my right middle finger developing a callus from squeezing my pencil for so long.

My parents were a little concerned that I would stay up until 10 pm every night, learning grammar, learning vocabulary, and answering questions from various literary passages we were assigned, but they let me do my thing. Every kid in that class, regardless of age, had the same amount of homework focused entirely on learning the language.

The idea was to learn the language well enough to understand other subjects, and once you had, you were transferred to what was called a “regular class,” in which you could learn math, social studies, history, and science. There’s no way you’re going to understand those other subjects or excel in them in any way if you don’t know English, so it made sense to learn that first, and then catch up afterward.

After a year, I was deemed fluent enough to transfer into a regular class, and I had to work my ass off to catch up.

Yes, it was hard.

Yes, it was worth it.

No one handed me anything. No one handed my parents anything. We lived out of other people’s trash, digging to find clothing, furniture, and even a small black and white TV that my dad fixed!

My father, despite his two advanced degrees, worked menial jobs in construction, cleaned offices, and washed dishes until he could learn enough English to be hired in his chosen profession.

Our tiny apartment was constantly infested with bugs, and no matter how much the management fumigated, and no matter how clean we kept the place, the bugs always returned.

During the summer, when most of my friends would get money from their parents for the ice cream truck, I would suck on ice cubes.

When they bragged about the new clothes they got, I hoped we could find something in their trash that would still be serviceable.

We didn’t ask for bilingual services. We didn’t ask for government handouts. We didn’t scream, “RACISM” when someone spoke to us in English. We worked to understand them instead, and we struggled to communicate as much as we could. I think people appreciated this.

How things have changed!

ESL classes nowadays are pointless, providing translation services, rather than focusing on teaching a skill fundamental to a K-12 education. Call a government agency, and you will hear options to press a button for Spanish and several other options. Don’t know the language well enough to do a job? It’s your boss who will get fired for not knowing how to talk to you in Flabonian, or whatever the hell it is you speak.

Special services, emergency Medicaid, free schooling, and other public benefits are available to legal and illegal immigrants. Illegal aliens aren’t eligible for federal welfare, but they certainly can take advantage of state programs, and God forbid you oppose them living on the public dole, racist!

Look, America is the land of opportunity. I’ve been afforded numerous chances to excel and succeed – opportunities I would have never had access to in my country of origin due to my gender and race! But I worked and climbed every step of the way, and so did my parents.

There were no handouts. There were no special services. There were no free translation services. There was no preferential treatment because we were of a particular race.

It was sink or swim, and we swam; we swam hard.

And that’s what made America even more worth it. We struggled to achieve, to learn, to advance, to earn a living, and in the end that struggle paid off. We lived in a roach-infested dump, and ate nothing but chicken, rice, and potatoes, we watched a TV we found in someone’s garbage, and we sat on furniture my parents rescued from the dump. If I remember correctly, the very first car my dad bought with the money he saved from menial jobs was this $300 hoopty, which he kept for four years, until that thing fell apart. But damn, was he proud of that beast! Because it was his. He bought it with his blood, sweat, and tears, and it was all his.

My father still has this armchair he put together from an old frame he found in someone’s garbage, two planks of wood he filed down to fit said frame, and two hideously green cushions he put on top of this concoction and covered with the one throw we managed to bring with us. I sometimes wish he would toss that horrible thing, but then I realize it is a symbol of the struggle and a reminder of where we came from and where we are today.

I succeeded in my own right, because no one ever handed me anything. I succeeded because no one ever gave me special treatment. I succeeded, because I clawed my way up every step of the way.

By giving immigrants – legal or illegal – special privileges, services, and benefits, we’re not doing them any favors. We are sending them a message: you are entitled and special, and you deserve to not have to struggle so hard.

Making it easy creates a class of people who don’t know how to face adversity and don’t care about hard work.

Why should they bother learning English, when they have bilingual services everywhere from the DMV to the IRS?

Why should they bother working to advance, when they can just demand a higher minimum wage for doing work that’s of lesser value to their employer?

Why should they bother studying in high school, when there are admissions quotas to help them get into college and services available on campus to ensure they don’t flunk out?

Protecting immigrants from adversity and hardship may seem like a kindness, but in the end it just creates entitlement, which is a disservice to both the immigrant and the country.

America is not a right.

Immigrating here is not a right.

It’s a privilege to be earned and cherished, not an entitlement to be demanded.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

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