Study shows economic pain if immigration rules implemented

[Coalition for a Working Oregon Press Release]

Federal “No Match” Rule could disrupt the Oregon economy and eliminate jobs within the state’s most critical industries

CORVALLIS, OREGON — The Coalition for a Working Oregon (CWO) released a study today that predicts significant reductions in economic output and job loss in the state if the federal “No Match” rule is implemented. The study, conducted by William Jaeger, Ph. D., Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University, is entitled Potential Economic Impacts in Oregon of Implementing Proposed Department of Homeland Security “No Match” Immigration Rules. The report details possible economic consequences in Oregon of the proposed “No Match” rule, a federal regulation designed to identify and eliminate undocumented workers in the U.S. workforce.

“The potential ramifications for Oregon’s economy are significant and could cause a loss of 173,500 jobs in the short-term, or 7.7% of Oregon’s workforce along with a reduction in statewide annual production of up to $17.7 billion,” said Dr. Jaeger.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “No Match” rule requires businesses to terminate any worker whose social security number cannot be verified by the Social Security Administration. The Rule is currently under appeal and could go into effect after the court process is completed. If implemented, the law would eliminate roughly 100,000 workers from the Oregon economy.

Dr. Jaeger went on to note that the negative effects of the rule would be felt in the years to come. “In the long-term, the study suggests that we could be looking at a loss of 147,000 jobs, an annual reduction in state output of up to 14.7 billion, a tax loss of $656 million and an overall economic loss of $7.2 billion.”

An enforcement-only approach such as the “No Match” rule is particularly damaging to Oregon’s labor-dependent industries because it provides no mechanism to replace workers removed from the system. The study reported that immigrant labor comprises 4.3 percent of Oregon’s total workforce or roughly 100,000 workers. The percentages are much higher in the state’s hospitality, agriculture and construction industries.

“This study illustrates what addressing part of the problem will get you,” said Jeff Stone of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and a member of the CWO. “If you eliminate undocumented workers without giving employers some way to replace them, our businesses and economy will suffer. Enforcement is a critical part of reform, but enforcement alone is not a solution.”

The study also concludes that eliminating undocumented workers cannot be expected to reduce the number of unemployed Oregonians. “The theory that the unemployment rate will drop with elimination of undocumented workers doesn’t hold up,” said Dr. Jaeger. “In fact, my analysis shows that due to the indirect effects on Oregon’s economy, the number of jobs could actually decline in the short-term by 7.7 percent if this rule were implemented, which would include a loss of up to 76,000 jobs by legal domestic workers.”

Jon Chandler with the 5,200-member Oregon Home Builders Association stated, “Employers want to hire legal workers. We as employers should do our part to help enforce our nation’s immigration laws, and those who willfully violate the law ought to be punished. That said, we need a complete solution which ensures that we have access to an adequate workforce.”

“Our immigration system is broken,” said Bill Perry with the Oregon Restaurant Association, “And the only way to fix it is for the federal government to pass comprehensive reform. Partial solutions like “No Match,” or a patchwork of state or local regulations, will only delay meaningful reform.”

The Coalition for a Working Oregon, an organization consisting of 20 of Oregon’s leading business associations, advocates for sensible, comprehensive reform of the current federal immigration system, supporting employee verification along with a mechanism for employers to access an adequate workforce, enhanced border security, and a system for effective enforcement of immigration laws.

CWO plans to use the data found in the study to build widespread support for comprehensive reform. Educational initiatives, including community forums, are being planned to discuss the findings and educate the public and elected officials about this complex issue.

The study relies on data from numerous state and national sources including the Oregon Employment Department, economic research and computer models, and existing studies from institutions like the Oregon Center for Public Policy and Pew Hispanic Center. For more information, or to download a complete copy of the report, visit www.oregoncanwork.org.

###

About Coalition for a Working Oregon

Coalition for a Working Oregon (CWO) is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sensible and thoughtful comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. The CWO is comprised of 20 Oregon employer groups who represent over 300,000 Oregon workers. For more information on CWO, please visit www.oregoncanwork.org or call (503) 796-3013.

About the Oregon Association of Nurseries

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,500 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon’s ornamental horticulture industry is the state’s largest agricultural commodity, with annual sales of more than $966 million. For information visit our web site at www.oan.org or call 503-682-5089.

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  • Jerry

    I knew these illegal aliens were the only remaining support for our shaky economy. Open the borders to anyone and everyone – if the illegal aliens are the only thing keeping us from a depression, then obviously we need more of them.

    It is so simple you don’t even need a study. Everyone knows all this already.

    LET THEM IN! QUICKLY!

  • David

    We could always put the able bodied American Citizen to work and off Food Stamps and welfare.
    The big gripe from businesses is they want labor for nothing.

    • sybella

      americans will not fill that loss. Our people are too good to work at jobs that get their hands dirty. _Our young people are lazy and spoiled._ I refuse to hire a boy or man, I prefer older women who need or want a job. For every good young worker there are ten bad ones. Until that is corrected it won’t make any differance whether the illegals are here or not

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >I refuse to hire a boy or man, I prefer older women who need or want a job.

        Wow, how about black people? Do you refuse to hire them as well? Or would you only hire them in a position that involves dancing or singing or some kind of rhythm? How about Jews? Would you consider them or no? Is there a “No Irish Need Apply” sign in your door?

        I’m not sure you have heard, but this sort of discrimination went out the door in polite company years decades ago. It is also quite illegal. I’m not sure how clearly your policy is stated if you are running a business on this basis but if it is, I would expect a visit from the EEOC at some point, with hefty fines soon to follow.

        • Sybella

          I have no problem with anybody’s color or religion. All I ask is they give me a days work for a day pay. My refusal to hire boys or men, is that if they are worth their salt for the job available, they will not stay in this kind of job and will do their best to improve themselves, or they are worthless and I don’t want them any way.

      • David

        The politicians have made the laws so youth can’t work.My Children picked crops for spending money when they were young but no more thanks to Hatfield and Packwood

        • Crawdude

          David, check out post #14, on top of what you stated, the jobs the kids could be doing are artifically full.

    • Sybella

      David you are wrong, we just don’t want people who will not do the job and still expect to be paid as if they did.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    “If you eliminate undocumented workers without giving employers some way to replace them, our businesses and economy will suffer. Enforcement is a critical part of reform, but enforcement alone is not a solution.” said Jeff Stone of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and a member of the CWO.

    Oh is that right Mr. Stone? Ok, can I make a suggestion Mr. Stone? Ok, now, keep in mind, I am no expert, but generally if an entry level worker gets fired you tend to take out an ad in the paper or call an employment agency to replace him. Ok got that? Now for these more career oriented upper management illegals that you will need to replace, you might have to hire a head hunter. Ok, got that as well?

    Congratulations Mr. Stone, you have just learned one of the basic building blocks of running a business, how to hire workers. God knows why it would pop into your head that it is up to all of us to find an alternative to you breaking the law.

  • Coyote

    Are those businesses going to voluntarily increase their contributions to the health care safety net?

    Are they going to start paying car insurance for the thousands of illegal aliens driving on our roads without insurance?

    Are they going to increase their contributions to the education system to better prepare the children of illegal aliens to speak english?

    Of course some of those folks are going to lose jobs. Of course some of those jobs are going to be picked up by American citizens.

    However doing a study like this without paying any attention to the stress that is put on the rest of society by the illegal alien market is specious at best and harmful at worst.

  • Bob Clark

    I agree the current system for immigration is broken. Governments like the city of Portland shouldn’t be promoting the two class system with its new day labor hiring camp while everybody else has to obey minimum wage laws, social security laws, going wage laws, etc. At the sametime, the federal government needs to be quicker in helping folks wanting to immigrant to legally enter the country with proper papers. The fed should also deputize like the Minute Men to help control our borders.

  • Crawdude

    The slave merchants will have to the minimum wage the Oregonian voters approved and the state will now be able to tax it.

    100,000 jobs will open up for legal Oregonians and the slave merchant will have to pay into SS, Workers Comp. and Unemployment.

    We may all have to pay a bit more for some services but the savings in crime, crime prevention, prison over crowding, public services and school costs…etc.. will far outweigh the costs.

  • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

    “In the long-term, the study suggests that we could be looking at a loss of 147,000 jobs, an annual reduction in state output of up to 14.7 billion, a tax loss of $656 million and an overall economic loss of $7.2 billion.”

    And, to quote comedian Mike Myers, “monkeys might fly out my butt.”

  • Dave A.

    Has anyone else noticed that all these agriculture folks complaining about losing all their ILLEGAL help; almost NEVER will tell anyone what they are paying these people. In fact, most are probably in violation of the Oregon minimum wage law. And let’s not even discuss working conditions.
    And these people expect clear thinking people to buy their phony arguements………

    • Jerry

      But remember, illegals don’t pay any taxes on what they earn, so they are really making out pretty well.

      • dean

        Jerry….where do you get that? If they are using false social security cards then SSI is deducted from their paychecks, yet they can never make a claim for that later on. If they rent an apartment or home they pay property tax within their rent. State and federal income taxes are also witheld from their paychecks. how do you figure they don’t pay any taxes? Only true if they work under the table for cash, which applies to US citizens as well.

        • Crawdude

          The one that steal the SSI numbers, many times do damage to the actual owners account. They prey on the elderly in assisted care homes, many of which have lost their qualifications due to the excess income that is accounted for on that number.

          Your argument on this subject kinda weak Dean, and it always seems to be the only one you have.

          • dean

            CD…I’m not in favor of having undocumented, non-citizen, not voting workers competing with Americans or using fake SSIs. So we are not that far apart on this issue. Where I draw the line is when folks claim they are all criminals (besides their illegal entry) or that they are not paying taxes. The vast majority of them are paying taxes, federal state and local.

          • Crawdude

            I disagree Dean, the vast majority don’t pay taxes ( unless they are in a saleS tax state). They take out much more from the Oregon economy than they put in……………..491 million over the last budget for schooling their offspring. The public schools are how short of cash every year? Illegal immigrant short every year, thats how much.

            Every illegal alien in this country is a criminal, there is no arguing that. Any that apply for benefits, lie and compound their original crime. They also take benefit money away from law abiding citizens.

            Now , you’re an open border kinda guy Dean, I understand but don’t agree. However, the argument you use to support your view is weak at best.

            I would like to see us remove all illegals ( 30% of which, work in decent paying private sector jobs) and then start a controlled guest worker program. If a company can prove it can’t find qualified American workers at a ;living wage than I have no problem with them hiring slave labor. As long as they pay what they would’ve for an American employee into SS, Unemployment, Workers Comp. and school taxes.

          • Jerry

            Craw – you are absolutely correct! How many illegals go to the trouble to get fake SS numbers? Not very many. They don’t want to pay taxes, so they don’t.
            Dean – you must be really out there to think they do. They simply do not.
            Whatever would make you think they would? Why shoud they?
            And, yes, they are lawbreakers for being here illegally. Who cares what other laws they did or did not break?? No one.
            Get real.
            I guess it is ok to break the law as long as you break it some more by getting a fake SS number and then pay some taxes you can not later claim? And who says they can’t??? Dean – you are nuts. If they have a fake SS number they will use it to get the SS money? Why wouldn’t they????
            Man, you are really something.
            But wait, I forgot, they will do the jobs Americans won’t. What would we do without illegal aliens? Starve I guess.

          • dean

            CD…and every American who has rolled through a stop sign is a criminal. The vast majority of illegal aliens are here working, paying taxes, and otherwise staying out of trouble. Treating them all as criminals is what shuts off debate about the best way to deal with reality. Sure…you would like to see us “remove all illegals (all 14 million of them). But many of them have been ehre for decades, many have kids who are AMerican citizens, many have skills or qualities we would miss. A less draconian approach would be far better all around, assuming we could get better control of the influx.

            I’m not in favor of “open borders” unless they are mutual (as among European nations). In other words, if I am free to move to Canada, Mexico or Greece or wherever and work and live, then I’m okay with the same right of citizens in those nations to come here to work and live. Mutually open borders work well among nations that are relatively close economically (like Canada and the US). We can’t hermetically seal ourselves up in a globalizing economy.

          • Crawdude

            Dean, they are criminals, they deserve to be treated as such. Once again, you are back at the “they pay taxes” argument…….they do not. In fact, if they are, they are committing yet another crime because they are using a stolen SSN and quite possibly hurting a legal citizens SS account.

            When a ship springs a leak, you put it in dry-dock , fix the hole and re-float it. If not, all you’re doing is quick fixing the leak, prolonging the eventual sinking. The illegals need to be removed and a program to let them back in under supervision implemented. They have to be removed first for the program to work.

            I’m putting in a Nectarine, Peach, 2 apricot and 2 fruit salad trees today(not sure about these, I hear the graphs die fairly quickly). This place is going to be cool in a couple years!

          • dean

            Good for you on the trees, but those are not easy types to grow in these parts. We have had poor success with them. Very good climate for apples and pears however, and we have an abundance. Plus berries of all types of course.

            Two problems with the dry dock analogy. 1) the national economy can’t be put on hold while we shrink the population by 12-14 million people. Second…these are people, not cattle. The police state it would take to roust out that many people would be one we would not want to create.

            CD…the “crime” most of these people committed was sneaking across a border, or over staying their visas and getting false IDs or SSI numbers so they can work above ground. If they are working above ground they are paying SSI plus federal and state income tax. They pay taxes. Make all the arguments you want, and there are many good ones, but the tax argument is just not true except for those who truly work under the table, and many citizens do exactly the same thing.

            Plus…it just ain’t gonna happen. No politician is going to get elected nationally who is going to round up 12-14 million people and ship them out. Its a non starter.

          • Crawdude

            My raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries did real well this year. It looks like my cherry bushes and kiwis might do well but they may not bloom until next year. I got the garden in the week before Memorial day so its kicking and the appletree is pushing maximum density. Its been a good year!

            I’ll keep my fingers crossed on the other trees.

            As for the illegal aliens being law abiding citizens, one only needs to look up the crime level of them. The number being deported each year for non-immigration crimes, etc…. I will agree that many are good , hard working people and if they went home and applied for citizenship legally I’d be happy to have them as a fellow citizen.

            I’m not worried one bit about our economy, it would take 10 years to deport all who need to be. During that time we would have plenty of applicants willing to legally come to this country and fill those positions. We would also be able to get rid of the illegal criminals, illegal criminal gangs, illegal drug dealers, smugglers etc… we have more than we need of our own, no need to import them.

          • Crawdude

            Oh, I agree with you about the rounding them up politician thing, won’t happen. However, if it becomes to difficult for them to find work or slave labor employers to employ them, most will leave on their own.

            The no-match and current drivers license requirements are a step in the right direction. Arizona and New Mexico have passed laws that have the illegals moving to other states or home, since the ability to find work has dried up.

            If border states can get them to leave without deporting them, every other state can also……..if they choose to. California may be too far gone already.

          • Joanne Rigutto

            Dean,

            Just because employers are withholding taxes doesn’t necessarily mean that they are paying them.

            I used to work for a general contractor in Portland who I suspect was hiring illegals at one time. In 2007 I worked for him for several months as an employee. I don’t do that anymore since I got back into contracting. Turns out that this person didn’t pay in any of the withholding for 2007 and there’s a good chance that he didn’t pay in any for 2006 either. In 2006 he had 35 emloyees, some of which I suspect were illegal.

            Needless to say, there are many of us who are former employees for this joker who are very concerned.

            If someone is comfortable with hiring illegal aliens, and provide them with false ID, then they are more likely to be willing to do things like this as well. None of us would have found out about any of this had one of his employees not been badly injured on the job. Turns out the contractor wasn’t paying in on his worker comp either. This guy could have gone for years like this without being caught. I didn’t think to investigate him, he had all the right papers hanging in the office and posted around the employee areas of the business – break room, etc.. He was a member of the Home Builders Association and other associations. He put on a good show of being an up and up business. Shortly after I came on, all the people who looked illegal went away and were replaced by all english speakers.

  • Gullyborg

    maybe if we didn’t have a minimum wage, and didn’t require employers to spend so much money on social security, unemployment insurance, taxes, and other regulatory expenses, they could afford to hire lazy unproductive American teenagers, who would then have a chance to learn a work ethic and produce for their spending money instead of relying on their parents for everything.

  • Rick Hickey

    These are basically the same arguments made by the same people before the Civil War.

    How can these people admit they are profiting by breaking the law with no fear of penalty?

    And yes I can show reports from credible economists that prove the opposite, illegal workers are bad for economy.

  • Joanne Rigutto

    Dave A.,
    Many, although not all, ag opperations are exempt from the minimum wage law in Oregon already. Essentially if it’s traditional to pay piece work, then that’s how you pay your help. A lot of pickers are paid by the pound to pick crops, not by the hour, many actually make more than minimum wage. How much more depends on how hard and fast you can work.

    The labor regs for farm work are available at the ODA (Oregon Department of Agriculture) website.

    Having said that, I don’t think the No Match rule is going to have a lasting effect on eliminating or signifigantly reducing the illegal alien labor force in Oregon over the long term. Illegals are already buying or renting someone else’s SSN, either with or without their permission/knowleage. The only thing that the No Match rule could do is stop or slow down people using the SSNs of the dead. But that will only happen if the database of deceased and their SSNs is linked to the database of live number holders.

    As it is, if your SSN is stolen at least the thief probably isn’t selling your number linked to your name to an illegal for employment purposes. With No Match implemented, if I was someone selling stolen SSNs, I’d charge a little more and add the name of the theft victim to go along with the number. The illegal gets his/her fake ID in the name of the identity theft victim and uses his/her given name as a nick name. When the employer checks the name against the number they match. Viola, no visit from the fed and we’ve just added another person to the already long rolls of those who’s lives have been turned upside down by identity theft.

    If you think about it, No Match is nothing more than a system to check a word (your name) with a number (your SSN). It’s done over the phone or via the web. No biometric data are ever checked, and in filling out the I9 Form, while the employer is SUPOSED to visually check all ID offered, there is no one to check if they really did see the pieces of ID. I personally have witnessed employers with new hires just take the new hire’s word for it that this is his/her name and number. No Match doesn’t check driver license number, so you could use any number. Unless you get caught in a raid, no one’s the wiser.

    Unless employers have a way to verify the validity of a driver license and a Social Security card, there will be no way for them to tell if they’re hiring who they think they’re hiring. And if they don’t have a problem hiring an illegal in the first place they’re good to go. If a fake Social Security card is produced on a high quality printer by someone who knows what they’re doing, without special equipment you can’t tell a good fake visually. And unless you have a reader for the bar code or the other strip on an Oregon driver license, you’ll be in the same position.

    An employer could verify the identity of a potential employee by running a background check, but I don’t want employers doing that and it would be cost and time prohibitive anyway.

    The demand for illegals is so high that even though a lot of illegals will have a hard time working and many of them will leave for a little while, they’ll either be back with a better fake identity or will be replaced by someone with a better fake identity.

    I’m predicting that the numbers of ID theft will begin to climb, and we’re going to start seeing more people with IRS audit problems, especially if the wages of an illegal are reported by the employer.

  • Rick Hickey

    Joanne – No Match checks Name-Birthdate & S.S.#.

    If a person uses a stolen or forged S.S.# it will not match the records at Social Security.

    This will help Employers comply with the law and reduce ID theft eventually as only your name DOB & S.S.# will match the records on file.

    Also Licenses in almost every state are now also checked using a similar system called S.S.O.L.V., this will also reduce ID theft/forgery as these expire and are renewed using this system.

    • Joanne Rigutto

      Rick –
      This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say that the birthdate was linked to the name and SSN. That would undoubtably make ID theft/fraud more difficult, at least for employment, but I still say that it will happen. The market is too big and too strong for it not to happen.

  • David
  • Crawdude

    Teen/Young Adult Joblessness Worsening
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 5:13 PM

    With foreign workers filling jobs traditionally held by teenagers and young adults, the Washington Post reports today that the youth jobless rate for June was at its highest level in the last 60 years, according to a new study. Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies analyzed Labor Department data and found that only 37 percent of teenagers ages 16 to 19 were employed nationwide, compared with 51 percent in June 2000. The study was prepared by Andrew Sum, who contends that competition for low-skill summer jobs is tough for youths because they face extraordinary competition from illegal aliens, other foreign workers, college grads not yet working in their fields, laid-off workers and older workers.

    A study of 10 major cities prepared by the Center in April, 2008 determined that the youth joblessness rate was highest in Washington, D.C. (86%), followed by Chicago (85%), and Detroit and New York (tied at 82%).

    Sum’s study measured the proportion of teenagers and young adults who are working. As a result, his figures are higher than Labor Department unemployment statistics, which measure the proportion of people actively looking for work. The following quotes from Sum included in the Post article provide some insight into why his choice of measurement is the better one:

    “Not all kids want to work, but when kids can’t find work, they stop looking…The kids who need work the most are getting it the least. There are a large number of kids unemployed and underemployed because there are simply not enough jobs for them…In the 1990s, teens benefited more than the average worker from the employment boom, with one out of every 10 new jobs…But teenagers did not get one net new job between 2003 and 2007. That’s the first time that has happened in 40 years.”

    Sum concludes youths can’t pick up these new jobs because of competition from illegal aliens and other adults that take the low-paying service jobs. Their plight has worsened because of the economy’s shift away from high-wage manufacturing.

  • Crawdude

    McDonald’s franchisee fined $1M for giving workers false IDs

    NEW YORK (AP) — A McDonald’s franchisee will pay a $1 million fine after pleading guilty in Las Vegas federal court to felony immigration offenses for giving false Social Security numbers to illegal aliens.
    The charges follow an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who have said management of Mack Associates knowingly hired illegal alien workers in Reno-area McDonald’s restaurants, supplying them with false identification.

    The Justice Department released details of the plea agreement late Wednesday.

    In U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, attorneys for Mack Associates filed guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to encourage and induce an alien’s unlawful residence in the U.S. and one count of aiding and abetting an alien to remain in the U.S., which are felony offenses.

    According to the plea agreement, Mack Associates management hired people known to live in the U.S. illegally, and gave them names and Social Security numbers belonging to other individuals.

    In addition to the fine, the government and Mack Associates agreed that the company be placed on probation during the period the fine is outstanding.

    Joe Gillespie, director of operations for Mack Associates, and the franchisee’s former vice president, Jimmy Moore, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an alien to remain in the U.S. Both men face a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    In September, agents encountered 58 people working illegally at 11 McDonald’s restaurants owned by Mack Associates near Reno. About 30 of the workers have been returned to their native countries. The remaining workers were provided documentation to stay in the U.S., pending an outcome of the criminal investigation.

    Representatives for Mack Associates and McDonald’s were not immediately available to comment.

    • Joanne Rigutto

      Well, there’s one source for harvesting false ID. Name, number and SSN, easy, one stop shopping. Job applications and I9 employee verrification forms, all the info you’ll ever need for ID theft.

      Too much demand for cheap labor, both on the part of employers and clients of people like contractors and other businesses is why I still say that the No Match rule will not have a lasting impact on the presence of illegals in the USA. Contracting is rife with stuff like this. I’ve worked on house jobs where at least half of the people working were spanish speakers, and few spoke more than broken english. Perhaps one of the reasons that farms are having such a hard time finding pickers is that a lot of the pickers have found out it’s a lot easier and more profitable to hang sheetrock, set tile, lay carpet, etc. than farm work. As long as the customers are looking for the lowest bid and tolerate contractors hiring people who are probably not in this country legally things will stay the same as they are now.

      Even my father, loyal union member that he is, hired a roofing company who’s employees didn’t speak english, all spanish speakers. I have a hard time believing that they came into this country on work visas as roofers. You might say, maybe they were farm workers here on green cards. Perhaps that’s true, but do you really want somone putting a roof on your house who doesn’t know anything about roofing? That’s not a trade you learn on a weekend. When I asked him about it, he just shrugged his shoulders and said they were cheap….

      That’s the attitude that makes illegal immegration possible. Just like drugs. You can prosecute the dealers and the manufacturers all you want and that will make a little dent in the problem. But if the market remains someone will always fill it eventually.

      • dean

        Joanne…I mostly agree with what you are saying, but on language, I would not be so quick to assume. My grandparents emigrated here from Greece, lived here 50 plus years and spoke very little English. They learned anough to get by. I assume many Spanish speakers are here legally or are citizens who have poor English skills, since languages are very hard to pick up as an adult, especially one with little formal education experience.

        An example is a local farmer who employs (legally) an extended family from Mexico. Most of them speak little English but they are working legally.

        • Joanne Rigutto

          Dean,

          I understand what you’re saying regarding language. My grandmother wouldn’t speak english, even though she could. I thought that one of the requirements for someone to work in this country, leaglly, was at least a rudimentary grasp of the language. I know that to get a driver license you’re supposed to have enough of a grasp of the language that you can read signs, etc., and not the ones with pretty pictures on them.

          Of course, judging by the way the DMV issues driver licenses to people who have absolutely no grasp of the language, perhaps that rule is more of a guidelline.

          The whole reason for having a single language in a country is so that everyone can communicate. That’s why many coutnries have official languages. I remember when Barak Obama made the speach where he said that people should learn different languages, and I agree with that, you’ll learn more about your own language studying other languages, at least I did. But the one thing I disagreed with was when he started talking about people in europe speaking english and how when english speaking tourists went to those countries the tourists didn’t have to learn the language of that country because everyone already spoke english.

          Well, number one, not everyone over in those countries speaks english. I have relatives over in Italy who are my age who don’t speak a word of english. I’m sure that if you are in the touristy areas then a lot of those people speak english as well as the other languages of the majour tourist populations. If you’re engaged in international trade, then english is a language you should learn but only because it’s currently a trade language. That won’t last forever, but right now it is.

          If I were going to a country either to work, or as a tourist intenting to move around in the non-tourist areas without a guide who spoke my native language, I would learn at least some of the native language of the country I was planning on going to. Learning a new language is *NOT HARD!!!* Not for a child and not for an adult. It *IS* work, but so is learning to drive a car, lay carpet, install tile, and any number of other things people have to learn to do to survive in this world. I am so sick and tired of hearing this argument being used as an excuse to keep people from learning english or to excuse people from learning english. All that people need to learn a foreign language, whether it’s english, russian, portugese, or what ever, is motivation, a decent teacher, and encouragement and support from others around the learners.

          “Oh it’s too hard for the little kiddos in school to learn english in 2 years, we have to take 4-5.” Please give me a huge break. When I was in school, when we learned a new language we had 1 class/day that usually lasted 45 minutes, 5 days a week for the school year. At the begining of the year we didn’t know squat about the language and at the end of the year we were relatively fluent. The other 3 years we could take if we chose to, just enhanced our grasp of the language and increased our vocabulary.

          The, ‘Oh, it’s too hard for them’ argument is particularly foolish when we, from time to time, have to first teach people spanish in order to teach them english because some of the people from latin america coming up here don’t speak spanish in the first place. So, OK, they’re not smart enough to learn english in 2 years, but in 4 years we can teach them 2 languages one of which happens to be english? Unless the person teaching them spanish doesn’t speak english, why are we not teaching them english in the first place? If they want to learn spanish they can take a spanish language class like the other students do if one is offered at their school.

          When I was in highschool, I went to Cleveland, in Portland. At the time the PPS had the magnet program going on and Cleveland was a language school, and, in fact there were foreign language classes offered at Sellwood, my grade school, for 7th and 8th graders as well. Sellwood had french, spanish and russian. Cleveland offered french, spanish, russian, german and latin. I forget if there were any other languages offered at the school, but I know that some were offered elsewhere. I did french, russian and latin in school, but a friend of mine did those and german, japanese, arabic, as well as picking up serbo-croatian through an exchange program.

          So learning a foreign language isn’t as hard as many people would like everyone to think. It’s work, and does come more easily to some than to to others, but is deffinately possible for anyone with at least an average intelligence level. Unless you’re genuinely mentally disabled you can do it. You just need encouragement and support from your family and friends, and someone to teach you. With total immersion, even someone in the work place can learn on the fly if those working around them will just help. But if you put a person in an environment where they are discouraged from learning that other language then, unless they just happen to be interested in learning another language for something to do, they won’t learn the new language.

          • dean

            Full agreement. Especially about Italians (in Italy) not knowing English. I found my bit of Spanish was helpful in learning a bit of tourist Italian.

            Ciao.

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