In a famous scene from the 2002 movie, “Gangs of New York,” the actor portraying 19th century political icon Bill “Boss” Tweed, bluntly describes the importance of quickly befriending and currying support from the newly arrived Irish immigrants in order to ensure the dominance of Tammany Hall. Well it seems like not much has changed since the shady smoke filled backrooms of the late 19th century as today’s politicians continue to treat immigrants more like cattle, than people – a tactic particularly pronounced on the issue of immigration.

With immigration taking center stage, there seems to be no shortage for soothsayers predicting the demise of a particular political party unless action is taken immediately to reverse course. Soothsayers are not limited to politicians, pollsters, and political consultants, but newspapers and editorial boards – see Wednesday, June 27, 2007 Wall Street Journal’s editorial titled, “Immigration and the GOP – how to make Republicans a minority party once again.”

Even if one were to accept the premise of doomsayers’ argument, acquiescing to the demands of one particular ethnic-voting block is political pandering at its finest and completely discourteous to other minority Americans. Even the most casual observer will concede how Spanish is becoming the unofficial second language in our country to the extent that English only-speakers have a tough time getting by in some places. Therein lays the danger of turning a blind eye to this fundamental change of this current immigration wave threatening the secret behind our country’s resiliency in making of “many-one.” What about people in places like Africa, the Middle East and Asia that yearn for a chance to become an American? Thus, a drastic overhaul of our country’s immigration and naturalization laws is seriously flawed unless we place a premium on the importance of compelling immigrants (and all those seeking to emigrate) to learn and master the English language, American civics, and solemnly pledge to support and defend our land.

In effect, legislators have a unique opportunity to reaffirm, in both principle and practice that this country is above the demands and needs of one particular ethnic group, and reminding its citizens, and all those who would like to become Americans, that we welcome all those who subscribe to our founding principles and legally immigrate to our country.

And as opposed to today’s pessimists in political circles, I have full confidence that Hispanic voters are savvy enough to recognize the offensive pandering injected in this current debate by both political parties, and ultimately base their decisions on a whole slew of issues in future elections.

As an American, of Hispanic descent, I would rather stand by the principles of fairness, justice and equality than kowtow to the political winds of the day to earn a quick vote for the next election.