Freedom and Opportunity, not Language, Define American Values

Freedom and Opportunity, not Language, Define American Values

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In honor of Cinco de Mayo and regarding the immigration debate the US is embroiled in, you might want to read an opinion piece by Eddie Garcia, Chairman of the Mexican Heritage Plaza written for today’s San Jose Mercury News. Salud!

flag of mexicoMy father-in-law is more comfortable speaking in Spanish than in English. He would rather eat a meal of rice and beans than a hamburger and fries. When watching TV, he is more likely to tune into Univision instead of CNN. Those who believe that our nation’s values and culture are based on language, food and television habits would argue that my father-in-law doesn’t represent American values.
However, for the past 50 years, he has worked hard, paid taxes, financed the education of four children, voted in elections and gratefully struggled in his pursuit of happiness. On a recent trip to Washington, he beamed with pride as he entered the White House for a tour. Based on the concepts outlined by our Founding Fathers, my father-in-law personifies American values and culture — albeit not in the language that some would have him do so.


  1. Exercising Rights Imposes Duties
    A drink without a cup satisfies no thirst. A cup without drink has no value. Freedom and opportunity do not stand in isolation. The language choice is also part of the values we hold. Equating consumer choice for a television program is irrelevant to the civic basis for the common good. Language is a great unifier and facility in English brings greater unity. The freedom to choose is a cherished Constitutionally defined rights but the exercise of those rights is what ensures their endurance. Exercising rights that are citizen-based not resident-based is what the debate should be about not choices in consumer goods. Exercising rights imposes duties and obligation as well as responsibilities. We can speak of the rights of those who are legal immigrants and those who are illegal immigrants but we should be clear there is a difference. The present system defines separate status and separate rights as well as duties, obligation, and responsibilities. The two are not the same and if they do change, we will have a fundamentally different country. That is a sound debate to encourage if it can be done civilly and based on the Constitution with due regard for the values we hold articulated by documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the writings of John Locke.

    Mike Alvarado

  2. language barrier
    I agree that language can be a unifier. It certainly is.

    Another great unifier is friendliness (we know the meaning of a warm smile no matter the language), music (we can share the sentiment without knowing the words) and creativity (color, floral arrangement, fabric, and paint… the same no matter the nationality)

    Celebrate our unity! It helps to accept our diversity.