Legal immigration has always been good

Published 4:54 pm Friday, September 28, 2018

Immigration is a hot-button political issue these days. Some folks are passionate about it, and that’s their right. There’s a big difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration. Those who enter the country legally should be welcomed and treated with respect. Those who enter illegally should be treated with respect and the laws of our country properly enforced.

In our opinion, legal immigration has been having a positive effect on our local community. It’s better to have legal immigrants living in local houses than to have them sitting there empty. It’s better that their children are in local schools, learning to be responsible adults than to have half-empty classrooms.

There’s no better example of this than what’s going on in Lanett. After a long period of decline, the schools are growing again, largely due to Latino families who have moved here. W.O. Lance Elementary now has more than 600 students. Ten years ago many of us thought that would never happen again. Superintendent Phillip Johnson says the school has become a melting pot of sorts and commends immigrant families for being very much involved in their child’s education.

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“They will take time off work to go to a school event,” he said.

One such event took place Thursday afternoon at W.O. Lance. It was a fiesta of sorts, as local Latino families celebrated Hispanic Heritage Day. This day has been celebrated in the U.S. since President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1988. Around 100 people packed the school’s media center for this event. Teachers Candy Crance and Sarah Horton, part-time teacher Hugo Oropeza and secretary/translator Tamara Reyes did great work in organizing and conducting very well received programs. Smiles were everywhere.

“Your children are so smart,” Crance told the parents. “We love having them here in our library.”

In many cases, Latino children who do not speak a word of English in kindergarten are proficient in the language by the time they are in the fourth grade. Some of them coach their parents in the language when they are home. A growing number of Latinos in the local area are taking English as a Second Language courses being offered at the Valley campus of Southern Union State Community College.

This is a good thing.

In addition to being a part-time teacher in Lanett, Mr. Oropeza is a full-time minister at a Baptist church in LaGrange. The Latino church has 140 members and is active in doing good works in the community. Again, this is a good thing.

We shouldn’t close our hearts and our minds to decent people who want to go the right way about living in our country and one day becoming U.S. citizens. In the debate over illegal immigration, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that legal immigration has always been a good thing for the USA.