NBC's New Term for Illegals: Immigrants 'Concerned About Their Status'

In its segment on illegal immigration and the proposed amendment to make English the country's official language, this morning's Today show pitted the following against a sole Republican senator: another senator who just happens to be the Minority Leader, the director of a school that teaches English to immigrants, the head of the association of immigration lawyers, and the NBC reporter himself, Mike Taibbi, who described the current atmosphere as 'nasty' and implied that the English language amendment was unnecessary. Along the way, Today even managed to coin a new euphemism for 'illegals.'

Taibbi began the segment reporting from what appeared to be a private-sector school in Queens, NY called the New York Language Center. Taibbi pointedly observed that at the school: "they learn one language. English. America's official national language, if a Senate amendment to a new immigration law passes." Not-so-subtle sub-text: "See, immigrants are already learning English. No amendment necessary."

Sen. Lamar Alexander [R-TN] was then given the segment's sole shot in favor of the amendment, as he was shown on the Senate floor stating: "English is part of our national identity, it's part of our blood, part of our spirit."

Taibbi: "But opponents say the bill's wording, 'that unless otherwise authorized no person has a right to have the government provice services or . . . materials in any language other than English' is aimed squarely at Hispanics, the bulk of this country's illegal immigrants." And to second his motion, Today played a clip of none other than Harry Reid:

"While the intent may not be there, I believe this amendment is racist."

Tiabbi's next remark again went to undercut the need for the English-as-the-offical language amendment: "The command of the English language should be a requirement for citizenship, some say. But students who come to this school already know that."

He continued: "But fewer immigrants concerned about their status are enrolling says the school's director as the debate over new immigration laws has become nastier." 'Immigrants-concerned-about-their-status': NBC's newest euphemism for 'illegal.' I don't know, just doesn't have the same ring as 'los indocumentados.' And when Taibbi speaks of the debate becoming 'nastier', whom do you think he has in mind?

Cut to school Director Barbara Dick who explains that fewer people are enrolling: "Because people are afraid, they don't know what's happening." Let me, um, translate that into English: people are afraid that the government might finally enforce laws already on the books regarding illegal immigrants.

Continued Taibbi: "And while the national language amendment has mostly symbolic meaning, critics say it could be a deal breaker." Today than played a clip from Deborah Notkin, head of an association of lawyers whose clients are immigrants:

"The fear of many who support comprehensive immigration reform is that these kind of things are being used as poison pills, to break down the legislation."

But why should that be? Consider again the amendment's language: 'No person has a right to have the government provide services or . . . materials in any language other than English.' Nothing restricting a person's right to speak another language. Not even anything prohibiting government agencies from providing services in foreign languages. Simply providing that there is no right to demand government that government accomodate a person's inability to speak English.

Tiabbi concluded by warning that "In the current atmosphere the label of English as the official language is closer than ever to becoming a law." !Dios mio!

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.