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Help Yourself to a Chance

Immigrants have a right to opportunity, not a lifetime of U.S. taxpayer support.

June 14, 1997|CHING-CHIH WONG | Ching-chih Wong, a freelance writer, emigrated from China in 1979

A recent study by some top-ranking U.S. economists and sociologists in the National Academy of Science concluded that immigrants to this nation have made positive contributions to its economy. This would appear true, as long as it deals with immigrants as a whole. All men are created equal, but not all immigrants think or behave equally.

One of the protestors against planned cuts to benefits, someone with the title of vice president of a refugee-veteran organization, made this kind of statement: "We have the right to claim benefits because we fought a war side-by-side with U.S. soldiers. The U.S. government made a promise to us then and now they forget what they had promised." Given that all his words are true, it still does not answer the question: How long does he think his "right" should last? Forever? More than two decades have elapsed and he is still claiming his right of beneficiary.

While some criticisms against the benefit cuts and accusations of discrimination do make sense, fishing in the troubled waters are the profiteers who never bothered to do anything constructive and only surface on this kind of occasion.

Among the benefit-cut protestors was a woman who came from Southeast Asia in 1975. She deserves our sympathy, as her parents and siblings were all killed in the war. She was lucky to survive and emigrate to the U.S. She has two sons, now 20 and 18. She said that she still doesn't understand or speak English, so she would be in deep trouble should her benefits and food coupons be cut. She petitioned openly, through an interpreter, to Bill Clinton: "Please give me a chance."

This "land of the free and home of the brave" is full of chances and opportunities. But not everybody has the spirit or courage to take every chance and grasp every opportunity available. Take speaking English as an example. Numerous ESL classes are offered by schools and other institutions, some even tutoring English free of charge. Can anyone in this nation claim there is no chance to learn English? The lady above has been here more than two decades and she still doesn't speak English. Now she laments to the president for a chance. What kind of chance does she want?

It is really a pity that, despite her arrival here at an early age, she did not take the opportunity to learn to live independently, but has taken all benefits and coupons for granted. I wonder what, besides delivering two citizens, she has done for this country. Even these two excellent citizens seemed to have been raised not by her own efforts but by taxpayers.

The United States, "land of the free and home of the brave," attracts most people not just because of the liberty and wealth as some may think, but because of the chances and opportunities. We should not be stingy to people who need the chance, but we really owe nothing to those who do not want to help themselves.

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