Here’s the president again:
Those who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well. So they broke the law, and that means they’ve got to pay their taxes, they’ve got to pay a fine, they’ve got to learn English.
And here’s The National Journal:
For years, in good economic times and bad, polls have consistently found that most Americans believe immigrants who are in the United States illegally should be provided a pathway to legal status if they take steps such as paying a fine or learning English.
Is this really necessary? If someone is able to get a job, make friends and generally build a life for themselves, what’s the point in legally requiring them to pass an English test? There are a million small and huge incentives to learn the language of the country where you live, all of which are significantly stronger than laws regulating this.
I’m currently an immigrant living in a country where I don’t speak the language.* I was hired for my communications skills in English, and I can basically get by without German — as long as I never try to explain anything out of the ordinary or interact with anyone over 45. I know people at work who have gone like this for years. If you work at an English-speaking organization and are married to another non-German speaker, where exactly are you supposed to find 10 hours a week for two years for language lessons and practice? For people with families, it’s basically impossible.
If immigrants in the States are able to get by without English, who are they harming? Despite the rhetoric of Sun Belt bigots, you’re not going to walk into the bank tomorrow and find that the person behind the counter can’t communicate in English.
Children raised and schooled in America failing to learn English is not now a problem, nor was it 100 years ago when basic education was far less accessible. Adults who don’t find the time to learn a difficult foreign language between working full-time and raising a family aren’t harming anyone. The US has better things to spend its money on than harassing and deporting middle-aged, undereducated manual labourers on the basis of their extracurricular educational attainment.
*I’m learning it as fast as I can, but dude, German grammar. This could be awhile.