Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?"..."Why aren’t you speaking in English then?"

Texas State Senator, Chris Harris, Arlington


Antolin Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, was giving testimony on an illegal immigration bill. For the testimony Mr. Aguirre was using a Spanish interpreter.

This is a question that needs to be asked more often. We spend millions upon millions (billions?) each year in the US providing interpreters for people who refuse to speak English.

This is a shift from the past. At one time in our society it was assumed that if a person moved to the US they would take an English class and learn to speak the language of the US, English.

I very much doubt that English interpreters are as prevalent in Mexico or most other Spanish speaking countries. I find it highly unlikely that government offices, health care facilities, and retailers in these countries provide a staff of English speaking interpreters free of charge.

I see this first hand in the hospital I work at. I work at an inner city ER in a Catholic hospital in a city with a sizable Hispanic population. We get a high percentage of Hispanics.

I mostly enjoy our Hispanic patients. They are more often than not good, hard-working people. They have a strong family culture and take very good care of their children. They generally tend to be polite and grateful for the care we provide.

I have no numbers but we have to spend a million dollars or more a year on interpretation services. This is not a service that can be billed to the patient or their insurance. It is a service that comes directly out of my paycheck or is taken away from purchasing equipment for us to use for our patients.

I do want to make clear that I often see interpretation as an important service. Health care is important and we have to make decisions that can often literally be life or death. As a strong patient advocate, I want a patient to understand what we are saying so they can make an informed decision.

With that said, I get incredibly frustrated with people that I know are in the country for years and are refusing to become proficient in English. At what point do we stop providing this service?

Many on the left are going to attack Senator Harris as a racist.

His question though is one that is overdue. If someone has been in the United States for 23 years, why aren't they speaking English?


Alligator said...

Antolin Aguirre knows how to speak English. Like all good leftist radicals, he did this as a provocation. He wanted to gin up a response that would get media headlines, and it worked.

If I had been living in Mexico for 20+ and was asked to testify before one of their committees, I sure wouldn't do it in English no matter how bad my Spanish was. Unbelievable what we silliness we put up with.

Z said...

Chuck, I have found the same thing with Hispanics and their children; very clean, well's nice to see.
I live in a fairly upper middle class neighborhood FILLED with illegals, so methinks they live multiple families in apartments, etc...or they could never afford apt rent near here...but it does my ears good to take walks and hear the illegal children (and they are) speaking English together...I must say. At least they're learning.

As for the high cost of interpreters, I've heard the same thing at the local Catholic hospital in Santa Monica. And, a docent had to come into a room next to one I occupied about 8 years ago in the ER and call pharmacies all over this Hispanic's neighborhood (it was a work injury which occurred far from where he lives and near the hospital) to find out the cheapest cost. Think any docent came to ME and called around town to get ME the cheapest pharmaceutical she could? Ya, right.

I'm proud of the guy who hammered it home that this guy should be speaking English...
odd...when I lived in France and Germany, I couldn't wait to learn the language so I got a better sense of the cultures! I guess when you don't want a better sense and live only within your culture, you don't learn the language.
My painter who worked in my house recently'd been here 8 years and barely understood a WORD I said. And his Anglo boss had promised his crew speaks English.

We make it too easy here......we're like a big dirty doormat. My relatives couldn't wait to learn English and fit in; what's happened since?

Alligator said...

China has over 200 languages and dialects. Mandarin is the "official" language of government and commerce. Cantonese is a close second and used in some areas for official business. Without an "official" language you can't keep diverse peoples cohesive, you cannot have a functioning modern nation without a common language.

I hear "immigrant" children speaking fluent English while their parents depend on the kids for translation. I have no problem if you speak Greek, Italian, Spanish, Croat, Cherokee, Japanese, Swahili or Apache at home and in your social circles and religious institutions. Being a National Geographic kind of guy, I rather enjoy the prospect of native languages and some cultural nuances remaining as part of the American fabric.

But when it comes to conducting government business, public education and public commerce, then it needs to be done in English. That's not because English is any better than any other language, its just been the predominant language here for 300 years. If America had grown out of Russian instead of British culture, I'm sure we would all be speaking Russian today.

English is in fact, the primary language of global commerce.

MK said...

It's a damn good question and i must say, it's just your leftist ratbags who won't allow this. Out here in Australia, you cannot come here without passing an english test.

And we have leftards running the joint, so unless you're coming in through that back door, they won't let you in if your english stops at - no speak english.

Chuck said...

Alligator, good point on the provocation. As far as the children interpreting for their parents, I have seen children try to interpret for some pretty inappropriate things. An example would be a mother coming in for something like bleeding and a male child trying to interpret for her. I cut them off and call an interpreter just to save the kid

Z, we do make it too easy. Imagine your parents living here for 20 years and asking for an interpreter.

MK, good for the Aussies. One big advantage you guys have is it's a helluva a lot harder to swim to Australia than it is the US. ;)

Lana said...

Working for an insurance company, I had many dealing with Spanish speaking people. The worker's compensation carrier was responsible for providing an interpreter. The costs are passed along to the consumer and their services are not cheap. So many of the people had been in the US for many years and claimed not able to understand English. It was a scam as far as I was concerned and I felt the interpretation charges should have come out of any settlement. The legislatures, of course, did not agree.

The high cost of insurance affects all of us who bother to have insurance coverage.

Chuck said...

Lana, interesting point. Hidden costs kill us all