McCain, WSJ: `Amnestied Aliens Will Learn English, Civics!” Joe Guzzardi: “When Hell Freezes Over!”

If you hear it from

Senator John McCain
, [McCain:
Earned Citizenship, Not Amnesty,

ABC News, March 28, 2006] or read it in the

Wall Street Journal
and it`s
about immigration, you know it`s bogus. [
GOP Be the Party of Reagan or Tom Tancredo?

Wall Street Journal,
March 31, 2006]

And it is.

, his colleagues on the

Judiciary Committee
who voted

Arlen Specter`s
worker/amnesty proposal and the

are all telling you that
among the provisions for “earned legalization
will be that aliens must learn how to

speak English

Take it from me, an

English as a Second Language

instructor at the

Lodi Adult School
who was
around for the Ronald Reagan

of the mid-1980s: no
illegal alien is going to

learn English

I know because twenty years
ago I tried but failed to teach them.

Without a deep desire to
learn English, no one can be taught. And trust me—that
yearning, except in a rare case, is not there.

Learning English is low on
most illegal immigrants` priority list. Witness the

empty classrooms
that I have
so often written about.

Should amnesty become law,
the federal government will assign some preposterously
low number of classroom hours as a green card condition.

Two decades ago, the total
was an insignificant forty hours. Who among the
illiterate can learn a

foreign language
in forty

In any 2006 amnesty, given
the magnanimous attitude in Washington that prevails

illegal aliens
, the required
hours are sure to be fewer…maybe even as low as ten.

The stipulation that aliens
learn English is a

—like every other aspect
of the guest worker/amnesty concept,

Who will really ever
know—except for the instructor and the pupil?

We can be certain that

and Specter won`t be
checking up on anyone.

If you are one of the fifty
or so people in the U.S. who trusts either


or the

I invite you to read my 2002 column about my classroom
experiences during the last amnesty titled

Immigrants Won`t Learn
English, Washington Doesn`t Care”

Keep it in mind as you hear
repeatedly from the Senate sell-outs how wonderful it
will be when the amnestied aliens are fluent in English
and know the difference between

George Washington

Abraham Lincoln


January 18, 2002

View From Lodi, CA:
Immigrants Won`t Learn English. Washington Doesn`t Care.

I have to give the devil his due. I
stand in awe of

Vicente Fox`s
relentless, full-court pressure for

 for Mexican illegal immigrants. And I remain
slack-jawed at Bush`s willingness to risk

political suicide
 by resurrecting amnesty time and
again, despite the

disapproval of the American people.

On a personal note, however, at
least amnesty might bolster the attendance in my

English as a second Language
[ESL] courses—for a

During the

1980s amnesty
, green card applicants were required
complete 40 hours of English instruction. Suddenly,

my ESL classes
went from less than half full to a
point where people were bringing their own folding

Classes were jammed. As a newcomer
to teaching, I was enthusiastic about the turnout. How
wonderful, I thought, that all these prospective U.S.
citizens were so eager to learn English.

My bubble burst within a week. When
students completed 40 hours to the minute, they
presented their INS forms for my confirming signature
attesting to their attendance.

At first, I balked. In the fine
print, the form also said that the student had to
demonstrate a mastery of conversational English and a

basic understanding
of U.S. history and government.

My students couldn`t answer the
questions: "When did you

arrive in the U.S.?"
and "Where is the

capital of the U.S.?

I refused to sign a federal
document that made a false statement. I suggested
instead that some students remain in class. After all, I
reasoned, they were going to

live the rest of their lives
in the U.S. Why not
spend a few hours a week at Adult Ed to learn your new

Within another week, I had my
second awakening. I received a telephone call from an

INS official
asking me why I wasn`t signing the
forms. When I explained my reasoning, he responded
curtly: "Sign them."

My immigrant students, instead of
returning for the extra instruction they so badly
needed, had complained.

After a few months, the last of the
amnesty crowd completed their minimum requirement. Our

dwindled back down
to their earlier levels.

In an ironic twist, dedicated
students who had been attending every day stopped coming
when they received the "Certificate of Completion."
To them too, the class ended with that document.

Looking back, I wonder why the
government chose 40 hours. About one-third of my ESL
students have

never been inside a classroom.
And among those who
have had some education, most cannot speak English.

Why wouldn`t the government impose
a meaningful time period? Forty weeks of
instruction would have made more sense. If

U.S. citizenship
isn`t worth

10 months in the classroom
, then citizenship isn`t
very important.

My experiences were nearly 15 years
ago. Many ESL students have come and gone during that
decade and a half.

I`m still at my desk every night
eager and willing to teach those who want to learn. And,
thankfully, I have some faithful students.

Those who work hard

are rewarded.
The best of them have gone beyond ESL
to complete their GED—which says they have the
equivalent of a high school diploma.

But I no longer have any illusions.

Lodi Adult School
offers 15 sections of Adult ESL in
all corners of town at all hours of the day and evening.
Every resident lives within walking distance of an ESL
class. But too many are unwilling, literally, to walk
across the street to learn English.

I`m not saying that it`s easy.
Sometimes life gets in the way. And mastering a new
language is a challenge. But in most areas of the
diverse San Joaquin Valley, ESL classes should have a
waiting list instead of empty seats.

I`ve noticed an

inverse relationship
between the number of
immigrants who come to California and the number of
students who enroll in class.

Learning English
is only important to a handful of

Who knows? Maybe if

Bush prevails
and amnesty passes, no English
requirement will be imposed. Since Bush

speaks Spanish
at every opportunity, he must not
think learning English is important either.  

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.