Monday, October 17, 2005

Greece could use something like this

Anyone who has read DeviousDiva's blog This is not my Country knows that Greece has some problems when it comes to immigration and treating immigrants fairly. Obviously, such issues are not uncommon in America either. In Tennessee not too long ago a Mexican immigrant was ordered by a judge to learn English or face losing custody of her daughter. There are arguments on both sides of the immigration issue, but the reality is that immigrants, especially refugees, will continue to pour into many nations all over the world. The onus is on these receiving countries to find ways to make the immigration process better for all involved.

Nashville Is Talking today pointed out a new act written and sponsored by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and Texas Senator John Cornyn called the Strengthening American Citizenship Act of 2005. This Act would help integrate legal immigrants into American society by assisting them in learning the language, the history, and way of government of the United States. Senator Alexander's article about the Act states:

That is why I recently introduced the Strengthening American Citizenship Act with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). The Strengthening American Citizenship Act helps and encourages legal immigrants who are prospective American citizens to learn our common language, history, and way of government by:

Providing $500 grants for English courses;
Allowing prospective citizens who become fluent in English to apply for citizenship one year early;
Providing grants to organizations to offer courses in American history and civics;
Authorizing the creation of a new foundation to assist in these efforts;
Codifying the Oath of Allegiance to which new citizens swear when they are naturalized, and;
Asking the Department of Homeland Security to carry out a strategy to highlight the ceremonies where immigrants become American citizens.

This bill is about fulfilling the promise of our national motto: E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. As a nation of immigrants, that motto is very important to us. For while our unique history makes us a diverse nation, we are still one American nation.

I think it is a step in the right direction. You can't always expect people in a new country to be able to do all things on their own, especially those that are scared and uncertain in their new surroundings. It would be great to see Greece dedicated to immigration reform, but I fear such things are far down the ever growing list of problems the Greek government is facing.

10 comments:

Ethnocentrist said...

Melusina,

No incentive is necessary for people wanting to assimilate into a new country. This is but another piece of shit legislation that takes taxpayer dollars in order to coddle these "scared immigrants". My parents learned English quite quickly and became productive members of society without the help of any legislation or incentives. This is atrocious and a sign of the further descent of America towards a "multiglot" of third worldism.

Doesn't it strike people as odd that third worlders need this extra incentive while nearly all non-English speaking Europeans never had much trouble assimilating?

How about you and "Seawitch"? At least Seawitch seems to have some semblance of understanding of Greek and you probably do as well. Who held your hands? If you didn't have your husband, would you wither away and die? I highly doubt it. Everyone, especially politicians from both sides of the aisle, tiptoe around the issue. That being multiculturalism is a joke and untenable ideology. Period.

Finally, Mexicans which I do believe this Act is mainly directed towards, have no interest in assimilation. Their interested in job stealing, undercutting, sending money back HOME, and reconquering what was theirs many ages ago. That's the damn facts.

Ethnocentrist said...

erratum above: They're interested ...

Mike said...

I don't know any Mexicans but I doubt they are much different to any other economic refugee. I doubt they want to steal jobs, they just want work - usually the only work they can get is at a lower rate than is offered to the 'indigeneous' population; they don't want to undercut, hell, they'd be far happier get the full whack - wouldn't you?

Got any figure for the number of Greeks who went to the States, Oz, etc... and sent money home?

Ethnocentrist said...

Your first paragraph makes absolutely no sense because it is happening as we speak. I'll get into it if you really want, though you need to spend a little more mental effort on what the ramifications of illegal and legal immigrants are onto a nation that they 1) do work for much less than what is the going rate for citizens which in turn puts taxpaying citizens out of work, 2) pay no money into the tax base, 3) utilize the social services that are available, 4) utilize the health care that is then written off the books at taxpayer expense or the hospitals go bankrupt, 5) send money back home which does nothing for the local, state, and federal economy, 6) increase the crime in the areas where there is preponderance of them, 7) increase the need for law enforcement in these same areas, 8) decrease values of residential areas because they do have the tendency of living 20 to 30 in one single family dwelling, and many more. Come up with some answers first.

As to your second paragraph, my family never sent money home to Greece. We knew at least 500 families in the Greek community where I grew up and none of them did. Extended family and friends in Canada, which was another 700 or so families did not either. I'm not saying NO ONE did, but as you can see I know or have known a lot of Greeks who left Greece and became Americans or Canadians. Their life was their new home. That was their mentality DESPITE being given hard times by the Anglos in the communities which was a fact of life and nobody cared so they just made the best of it and forged ahead.

Any more questions?

Sandra said...

The legislation sounds like a good idea to me. It's aimed at legal immigrants, people who are paying taxes and contributing.

deviousdiva said...

When I first came here, I could not find any free courses to learn Greek. I don't know if that situation has changed but lessons in Greek were very expensive. Certainly outside our tight budget. Greek is not an easy language to learn. You can get by with the basics but many of us would like to widen our knowledge so we could participate more and not sound like idiots. I would have appreciated a course in Greek and on Greek history, culture etc when I first came here (or now if it was available) While some people do find it easier than others to learn a new language (and I really do admire that talent) other people struggle. Being made to feel that my language difficulty is somehow an unwillingness to assimilate is not helpful. It is not an "incentive" as such. It is providing opportunities to learn and assimilate with greater ease.

"Doesn't it strike people as odd that third worlders need this extra incentive while nearly all non-English speaking Europeans never had much trouble assimilating?"

I have to dispute that statement, ethnocentrist. In my experience, it depends on the person and their experience, not where they came from. I know quite a lot of "third worlders" who have assimilated quite easily and "non english speaking Europeans who have not. I don't think this kind of generalisation is helpful either.

The SeaWitch said...

"The onus is on these receiving countries to find ways to make the immigration process better for all involved."

I disagree. The onus is upon the foreigner to learn the language, history and culture of his adopted country. Of course it definitely helps, as Diva points out, if the country did offer affordable or even free culture immersion courses for newcomers. I certainly would have availed myself of such a program and most probably started speaking and writing Greek much sooner than I did.

I agree with Ethno (don't have a heart attack here LOL)on several of his points. The main one being personal responsibility. His parents, like my relatives came from Europe and had to learn a new language from scratch at a time when there were no social services, no immigrant rights....just hard work and the determination to succeed. I don't believe we should 'mollycoddle' immigrants as Ethno says, but at the same time I don't believe they (we)should be treated any better or any worse than any ethnic citizen. In my experience, I've found the so-called "Third Worlders" speak Greek better than I do because their desire to work and feed themselves necessitated it and because they did not have the luxury of speaking an internationally spoken language like English to fall back on.

Accepting personal responsibility for their own integration is of paramount importance if they desire to better their lives in their adopted country. Giving immigrants the opportunities (not handouts) to achieve integration is of paramount importance to the State. By doing so, a country will thrive with legal, tax-paying, law-abiding and hard-working new citizens.

(BTW Ethno...my husband was more of a hindrance than a help with my attempts to become literate in Greek. It was subtitled DVDs and my mother-in-law's encouragement and patience I credit for the basic Greek I have acquired.)

melusina said...

I disagree. I think any country that accepts and allows for new immigrants (keep in mind I am talking LEGAL immigrants here) needs to bear some responsibility for helping these immigrants to assimilate. A lot of them WANT to, as Sen. Alexander pointed out, but don't have the means to take English lessons or do some of these other things that make integration easier. Especially for refugee immigrants, who have little to no money, are frightened, overwhelmed, I think an Act like this is crucial to helping them love America and become American.

As to the sad story of immigrants past, yes, my great-grandparents arrived in America from Germany and they had a hard time and had to learn the language on their own and hard work found them a good life in America. But times have changed, and I daresay because my grandmother had to walk to school 10 miles each way in the snow doesn't mean my children should have to. Just because immigrants had it harder before doesn't mean things can't be made easier now.

I really think these types of things can go a long way to helping immigrants better identify with their new country.
I mean, it is easy for me to say I want to be Greek, I want to participate in Greek life and culture, but I am here because my husband is Greek, my position is privileged, it is not that of a refugee. If a refugee wants to become Greek, how do they do it? What if they know noone? You can find ways to learn the language, the history, the culture, but why not have programs that are for immigrants to help them learn these things? I think ultimately such programs are better for everyone, immigrants and natives alike. If a country is willing to accept legal immigrants, then that country can (and should, in my opinion) take a step further to make the process easier for all involved.

Personally, I have had a hard time assimilating to the Greek language and culture. I've barely learned the language and I often find the whole Greek Orthodox thing a little more than I can bear without rolling my eyes a thousand times. I'm not sure I would "wither away and die" if not for my husband, but I probably would have gone back to the U.S. a long time ago. Of course, I probably wouldn't have come to Greece in the first place if not for my husband.

I don't know. I mean we can have a world where everyone (and their descendants) who has ever immigrated has to go back to their home country. I wonder where that would leave most of us?

EllasDevil said...

To add my 2 cents to this thread (I'm commenting about the story, not the comments). How can a judge order anyone to learn English. As far as I'm aware, the US has no "official language"? Am I right?

melusina said...

You are right, there is no official language, even though some folks have tried to push it through.

English/Spanish is pretty standard these days, actually.