ON-Lion Letter

"The two of us strongly disagree on immigration policy and have engaged in lively public debate on the issue over the years," begins an August USA Today op-ed by Linda Chavez and John Fonte.  "But one thing we agree on is that whatever immigration policy prevails, it must be accompanied by the patriotic assimilation of immigrants and their children."

Chavez is president of the Becoming American Institute in Boulder, Colo., and Fonte directs the Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports both the Becoming American Institute and Hudson's Center for American Common Culture.

"The essential American ideal of E Pluribus Unum" -- "out of many, one" -- "was put on the Great Seal of the United States during the American Revolution and came to signify our nation's great success in assimilating immigrants," continue Chavez and Fonte.  "Today, however, many of our institutions appear to focus almost exclusively on the pluribus, while ignoring the unum, preferring to emphasize what divides us into groups rather than what unites us as Americans.

"This divisive group-based emphasis has been going on for decades," they write.  "It has only gotten worse since, largely without an honest, serious, and open debate on what type of assimilation is best for our country."

"First of all," according to Chavez and Fonte, "if our democracy is going to work, Americans must be able to communicate with each other. ...  Second, we should reject policies that deepen ethnic and cultural divisions, classifying Americans by artificial, bureaucratically-created groups that government officials then use to award preferences in hiring, contracting, and college admissions. ...  Third, our schools should teach the full story of America.

"Finally," they conclude, "newcomers preparing for citizenship should be taught that patriotism -- love of their new country -- is essential to good citizenship."

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |