I seldom call for a journalist to be fired, but the behavior of Jim Acosta of CNN in today’s briefing by White House adviser Stephen Miller was disgraceful and inexcusable. Acosta was acting like an opposition party politician, not a professional journalist.
But my main point in this blog post is to explain why Acosta was wrong. First, though he may be correct in saying that a points-based immigration policy would be a radical change for the U.S., it is the approach taken by Canada and Australia, whose systems I’ve never heard criticized by CNN/Acosta. Indeed, a points-based policy was the basis of the bipartisan 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. And to my recollection, no one at CNN opposed that approach, including Acosta. In other words, CNN/Acosta’s view of a bill depends on who supports it, not its content.
I personally have never been a fan of points-based systems, and I don’t believe something like it would be approved in the U.S. But Acosta is being hypocritical and, again, unprofessional.
The point I most wish to bring up here, though, is the objection Acosta had to requiring immigrants to know English as a precondition for being granted a green card. I have been advocating that for 20 years, and I am speaking on more than just armchair punditry, as I am a former ESL teacher in San Francisco’s Chinatown (I usually teach the sub-beginner course), and am someone who has been immersed in Chinese-immigrant communities for 30 years.
Let me state the obvious: English is a lot harder for Chinese people to learn than for, say, Spanish-speaking people to learn. And yet the Chinese do learn, because they know their success in the U.S. depends on it.
Moreover, if it were required that potential Chinese immigrants learn English back home before immigrating, they would learn English back home before immigrating. They would do this because of their intense desire to immigrate. There are lots of learning tools on the Web, and I guarantee you that English tutorial companies would spring up in China like mushrooms after a rain. They would not be of high quality, but they would be good enough. Even as it is, if you go into a bookstore in any Chinese city, you will see many books, tapes and so on for learning English.
THIS IS A NON-PROBLEM, FOLKS. Having this requirement would help the U.S. and help the immigrants, a win-win situation if there ever was one.
And yes, if I wasn’t clear, Acosta should be fired.