Some conservatives complain that if immigrants want to live in this country, they should learn the language. Tell that to Aracely C., who has worked in the sweatshops of Los Angeles’s garment industry for the thirteen years she has been here. She works seven days a week, more than twelve hours a day. “I have no time to learn English,” she tells me as I sit with her and Leticia A. in the MacArthur Park headquarters of UNITE, the textile workers’ union, just a few blocks from the nation’s largest garment center.
Aracely’s children speak English, but she’s not home enough during their waking hours to learn the language from them. Her children— her son wants to be a policeman when he grows up and her daughter wants to be a lawyer—only speak to their mother in their native Spanish. She isn’t even free on Sunday to take them to church or to the park. So how can she find the time to learn English?...
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