Guest workers versus immigrants |

Guest workers versus immigrants

Dear Editor:The distinction between guest workers and immigrants connotes more than legal status. It is not necessary for guest workers to participate in U.S. society, or to learn the language. They are invited to come here and work for a specified period of time, not to raise families and make this country a permanent home. Guest worker housing, health and other needs should be met by the employers who are benefiting from their presence rather than by the broader community.Bilingualism is a wonderful enhancement to education, and schools should teach foreign languages rigorously in the early grades when the brain’s linguistic structure can most effectively absorb them. This does not mean that the U.S. should become a bilingual country. Competition between languages and cultures have historically torn apart rather than improved a nation’s social fabric.Spouting trendy platitudes about multiculturalism is not advisable in an era of new immigration. Immigrants pouring through the Ellis Island portal a century ago wanted their children to assimilate completely, and they did. It was the grandchildren of those immigrants who in the 1970s explored and discovered their ethnic roots, but they did so as fully assimilated Americans. Today the multicultural concept is diminishing prospects for the societal assimilation of new immigrants and their offspring.While guest workers should be the responsibility of their employers, legal immigrants ought to be the responsibility of the society as a whole. Earlier generations of immigrants were acculturated into American life via programs organized by a network of institutions, from schools, libraries and community centers to multiple social service organizations both private and governmental. Today such programs would be labeled racist and xenophobic.The alternative to providing these services is for this region to increasingly be inhabited by an unassimilated, undereducated work force of immigrants, who, however legal their status, will prove socially divisive despite flabby-minded leftist pieties about the delights of diversity.If our communities are not willing to assume a proactive role in the acculturation process with the expectation of immigrant participation in its programs, we should rethink our immigration policies even more fundamentally than they are now being reviewed.Judith KingGlenwood Springs