WSJ OPINION: JASON L. RILEY — Steve King & Other White Nationalists Are Wrong — America Is Not Europe — That’s Why Refugee Assimilation Works Here — “Shared Ideals” Are Key (And They Are Not The “Ideals” Spouted By King & His Crowd)

Riley writes:

“America doesn’t have that problem because it has done things differently. Here, the emphasis is on shared ideals rather than shared cultural artifacts. The U.S. model for assimilation has been more successful because of the country’s value framework, which is the real immigrant magnet. Longitudinal studies, which measure the progress of the same individuals over time, show that U.S. immigrants today continue to assimilate despite the best efforts of bilingual education advocates and anti-American Chicano Studies professors. As with previous immigrant waves, different groups progress at different rates, but over time English usage, educational attainment and incomes do rise.

Mr. King may fear immigrant babies, but he should be more careful not to confuse his personal problems with America’s. Given the coming flood of baby-boomer retirees over the next two decades, those high birthrates are just what the pediatrician ordered.”


Generally, Riley is on the right track. His observations match my experience in Immigration Court where most of the individuals coming before me shared the same values I had:  stability, safety, a future for their kids, opportunity for political and economic participation, community and often religious involvement. In other words, being part of a society that is generally functional, rather than dysfunctional as in many of the countries migrants flee.

But, I didn’t appreciate Riley’s snide remark about bilingual education. That’s perhaps because my daughter Anna has taught English Language Learners and still works with migrant populations in the Beloit, WI Public School System.

Bilingualism helps families to learn English and communicate, particularly to the older generation and friends and family abroad. Individuals who are bilingual and at home in different linguistic situations have more satisfying lives and better economic opportunities.

Indeed, America is far behind many other developed countries in bi- and tri-lingualism. It was not uncommon in the Arlington Immigration Court to encounter respondents who were fluent in a number of languages, although for obvious reasons most preferred to have their “merits” court hearings in their “best” language.

That’s just one of the reasons why many “Dreamers” with biglingual skills are well-positioned to be our leaders and innovators of the future. And, we’re fortunate to have them contribute their talents to our society. We’re going to need the talent and energy of all of our young people as well as births to continue to prosper in the future.