As a first generation Italian/American I know a little something about the hot button issues of immigration and about those individuals lacking fluency in speaking English. I know all to well the struggles of immigrants, because I’m a son of immigrants.

And perhaps somewhat biased, in that when my parents came to this land of “milk and honey” many years ago they were not afforded the niceties of a federal government that would consider their lack of speaking English as a “federal disability”, and the very mention that my father’s birth language was a disability would have in all probability send this proud man into overdrive.

And perhaps that’s the real issue creating a federal policy that allows hundreds of Puerto Rican’s to qualify for “federal disability benefits” because they lack fluency in English, in which even the Social Security Administration’s inspector general questioned the policy in light of the fact that Spanish is the predominant language in the U.S. territory.

And although it stands to reason that individuals who cannot speak English are considered less likely to be employed regardless of their work experience or level of education. Common sense would dictate that learning to speak English as my parents and countless generations of immigrants have done, is the obvious path to achieving the "American Dream".

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, 95% of Puerto Rico residents above age 5 speak Spanish at home, and about 84% say they do not speak English “very well”, which would almost guarantee under these new federal guidelines, that those individuals would certainly qualify for federal disability benefits. Auditors identified 218 cases between 2011 and 2013 in which the Social Security Administration granted disability status to Puerto Rico residents because of the existing guidelines.

Puerto Rico as we all know is a “Commonwealth” of the United States, and as such enjoys a special and unique classification, that is not afforded to other immigrants seeking to come to America. Perhaps that unique status may also be the reason why there’s a reluctance to fully assimilate within the American culture, thus the 84% that do not speak English well. Ironically because of that special status that the island enjoys there’s also at times a belligerent almost hostile attempt to push back against the mainland.

Just recently a bill was introduced that  would penalize the use of the American flag, in the absence of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's flag on any building housing the three branches of the state or municipal government, as well as any public corporation.

 

 

 

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