LET Help immigrants succeed

I want to respond to the letter writer who thought "foreign speaking parents" should learn English. When our ancestors came, they formed close communities and relied on each other for help. Often, English was not learned until the second generation. Today's immigrants do not always have a same-language community to rely on. They face a staggering array of social and cultural complexities unknown to our ancestors.

This is the sort of immigrant family I've experienced in Rochester: Dad works 12-16 hours a day as a cook; Mom works midnights as a cleaner. The children often have to do a lot, sometimes too much, for themselves. Mom and Dad are both slowly learning English, but that task does not have the same urgency as paying the rent. Are they responsible for their actions or nonactions? Of course.

I would like to suggest, however, that if Rochester is to be a functioning community of diverse peoples, then actually, we "taxpayers" share responsibility for ensuring that immigrants have access and means to learn the language. Without English, there can be no progress toward autonomy and self-reliance, not to mention being able to understand what is happening with the children at school.

Martha; Egersdorf


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