How Not to Enter the Immigration Reform Debate

Celebrities often weigh in on subjects they ought to avoid for the sake of their own images. Gene Simmons of Kiss may be the best example of how not to enhance the immigration reform debate.

Simmons came to the United Stated from Israel when he was eight years old, and he has definite opinions about what the immigrants waiting for reform need to do to move forward.

In a recent interview, he said “So, as an immigrant, I’m telling you: learn to speak goddamn English. It is the key that will unlock the keys to the kingdom.” He stands by his remark based on his own personal experience.

Appearing on HuffPost Live, Simmons took his observations one step further, suggesting that the best route to assimilation into U.S. culture was through legal immigration — which may be easier said than done given the horrendous mess the current immigration system is enduring. The show’s host did ask Simmons about the challenges conflicting immigration policies create. He replied, “But why should it be easy?”

Does Simmons have a point, or is he suggesting that immigrants who are in the United States illegally choose to remain that way because they are too lazy to learn its most common language? No matter how he had phrased his remarks, his bluntly offered advice would still border on offensive to many.

Reform is tossed from party to party without action. Politicians consider it to be a stick of dynamite best not lit; no one wants to be the one to set off a landslide of changes that could attract criticism and dissent. English mastery may give a person a distinct advantage, but the issues behind reform are much deeper than the language barrier.

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