Our View: Blame it on the immigrants?


Drugs, poverty, higher taxes ...

Blame it on the immigrants.

Declining morals, values, ethics ...

Blame it on the immigrants.

Watering down the English language, a dissolution of American culture ...

Blame it on the immigrants.

Not all immigrants mind you, just those who only speak Spanish and are saturating our country. They're to blame for America's problems, right?

Wrong, the editorial board contends.

The Daily Press has heard from several readers since May 5, 2005, the launch date of its Spanish pages. They have used the complaints above to lodge their opposition to the content, which accounts for two pages once a week, on Tuesdays.

These criticisms seem to be a microcosm of a larger argument being debated across the country -- that society is catering to immigrants.

The editorial board spent a good deal of its Monday meeting discussing the Spanish pages and the uproar of illegal immigration.

The board concluded that too much is made of the issue, and that the American public has been led to believe it's a bigger deal than it actually is.

A knock against the Spanish pages is that some believe the Daily Press is pandering to the Spanish-speaking population and that the publication excuses immigrants for not speaking the native language.

But, let's separate truth from fiction.

The Daily Press publishes, on average, 116 pages per week. The Spanish pages account for two of those pages, or about 1.17 percent of the papers' overall content.

That's far from bending over backward.

The Spanish pages also serve practical purposes.

Spanish community leaders have said that some immigrant readers use the pages as a study tool, or as a guide against the same articles in English to better learn the language.

The pages also inform a segment of the community.

The editorial board believes wholeheartedly that an educated public, whether they speak English or Spanish, is better than an uneducated one. If the Spanish pages serve as a tool for even one Spanish immigrant to more easily learn the language, or be better informed about the world around them, the pages have served their purpose.

Another argument against illegal immigrants is that their presence is somehow harming our culture. Our contention is that America is doing just fine on its own in this regard.

Murders, robberies, drug use and bigotry run rampant in our society, and pinning these problems on Mexican immigrants is shortsighted and misguided.

So, the editorial board asked, how has Spanish-speaking immigrants affected us the most? To a person, each member of the editorial board responded that the most common way was while trying to reach a utility company.

And, is having to "press 1 for English" really that big of a deal? No, not really.

Our point: The immigration issue has gotten far too much publicity thanks to TV's talking heads, political spin doctors and ambitious politicians looking to score cheap points on the backs of voter outrage.

Let it be clear that this board does not condone illegal immigration, or the problems it presents. If you're going to be here, we feel it should be through legal means.

What we shouldn't allow is our concerns -- most pressing are the Iraq war, terrorism, rising health care costs, Social Security and global warming -- to be overshadowed by an issue, which in the scheme of things, has been blown out of proportion.

And, hopefully, you won't either.

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