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Should permanent residents be required to speak English?

As part of the proposed immigration reform bill, millions of undocumented immigrants could have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency in the United States. Of course, the offer comes with several requirements, including an English language proficiency requirement.

Immigrants seeking naturalization in the United States have always been required to pass an English language and civics test before being granted citizenship. However, under the new immigration reform bill, undocumented immigrants will be held to similar requirements, which has brought both praise and criticism.

In a recent article from the Huffington Post, a professor at Georgetown University argues that the English proficiency requirement is very important because it dictates whether the immigrants become "productive participants in the American economy" or "bring it down."

The professor wrote that according to Census data, employment opportunities for immigrants in the United States increase extensively with English proficiency. She wrote that immigrants who are fluent in English earn close to twice the hourly wage as immigrants who cannot speak English and close to the same as those born in the United States.

Additionally, she wrote that a report issued by the Census Bureau in 2005 found that immigrants with the lowest English proficiency had the higher unemployment rates and lower average earnings. For that reason, the professor wrote, immigrants with little to no English skills are more likely to enter poverty.

The professor concluded that because green cards will not be granted to undocumented immigrants immediately under the new plan, they will have time to learn English skills and become integrated within the American economic system.

Of course, there are some immigrant advocates who disagree with adding a language and civics requirement for undocumented immigrants seeking green cards, arguing that the requirements are unfair and unreasonable. What are your thoughts?

Source: Huffington Post, "The Immigration Debate: English Matters," Barbara Mujica, June 3, 2013

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