Open thread about reduced immigration and the effect on English and Spanish

Friday, October 10, 2008

Those that follow the news closely might have noticed that the sagging economy in the U.S. has compelled a lot of immigrants to go home, an estimated one million:
But construction job losses are affecting remittances, Bank of Mexico President Guillermo Ortiz said Wednesday. He said about 22 percent of Mexican workers in the U.S. have jobs in construction, an industry that has slowed sharply.

Gone are the days when migrants came back to Mexico each year flush with cash, then returned to jobs waiting in the United States, as they did during the boom years of 2002 to 2006.

Now, more migrants rounded up by U.S. immigration officials are being sent home penniless. Others have decided to return for good.

I'm not sure however what the overall effect less immigration has on the state of English and Spanish. Does it:
  • Weaken the English language as the economy of the United States weakens and less immigrants come to live in the country, or
  • Does it strengthen the English language considering its somewhat perilous situation in the United States as more and more Spanish-speakers come to live in the country, creating a large number of areas where you don't even need to know English to get by?
IOW, is an economically weaker but more linguistically unified United States better for the status of English, or is an economically stronger but more linguistically chaotic United States better for the language? I know a number of Koreans over here that spent a few months in California and were extremely surprised (even though I told them!) at how much Spanish there is, and their overall impression was "wow, I guess I'll have to learn that too eventually".


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