The Family Issues Roundtable, an inter-agency community networking and educational group of which I am VP, had a wonderful event on Friday. Norman Bristol Colon, the Executive Director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, was one of the presenters. He told a story about what happened when he and his girlfriend were walking in a local Wal-Mart and speaking Spanish. A woman came up to them and declared, "Why don't you just go back to the country you came from?" His reply: "Sure, I can do that, but why don't you go back to the country your ancestors came from? If your family was welcomed 250 years ago, then my family can be here today." Unfortunately, churches have not always made the stranger welcome. But Paul writes, "Accept/welcome one another just as Christ accepted/welcomed you" (Romans 15:7). So we have a more urgent reason to welcome the "other", not just our national tradition but also the example of Christ and the command of his Word.
On integration and language acquisition (learning English), the presenters made the point that education and English language speaking are critical for success as Latinos in the USA. But they also reminded us that the process is moving forward following patterns and time frames similar to those of other earlier immigrations (Germans, Poles, etc.) in our nation's past.