Keeping the Cultural Mosaic
By Laura D'Onofrio
ENGLEWOOD — Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes has a long family history of working to help realize the American dream for foreign immigrants. Few people know that his father, Leon Wildes, offered successful representation for former Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono in deportation proceedings spanning a five-year period.
Recently, Wildes was appointed to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy. The governor convened the panel to research how best to address the immigration concerns of the Garden State. This panel was created to awaken Washington from their "deafening silence" regarding immigration policy, said Wildes.
Wildes maintains that since 9/11 America has lost its bearing on the immigration issue. "Congress members cannot effectively talk about immigration policy and anti-terrorism at the same time," said Wildes. "They are looking to ensure their own positions rather than discuss what is in the nation's best interest."
Englewood has a potpourri of cultures from its immigrant population that makes the city a diverse and vibrant place. The "immigrant community works in our businesses, dines in our restaurants and pays the same state and employee taxes. We want to continue and encourage this talent," said Wildes.
Yet, not all these citizens have the same English speaking capacity as their neighbors. Wildes wants to ensure that the immigrant population has the same access to public information as native English speakers.
Wildes stressed that America wouldn't be what it is today without the variance immigrants. "We are a nation which has long preached asylum and refuge for the multitudes," said Wildes. "America was, in fact, hewn by immigrants and polished into the economic and cultural gem that she is, still today a melting pot of peoples from scores of countries."
Chief among our tools to integrate cultures is communication. Language is the living tool that expresses ideas and shares opportunity. Englewood's priority, according to Wildes, is accommodating all the prevalent cultures of the community. The city does this through several cutting edge bilingual programs.
The Englewood Health Department has bilingual literature concerning vaccinations and pet services.
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center's Marketing Department prints its information in Spanish and Korean.
The Englewood Public Library teaches English as a Second Language, hosts Spanish-English programming and uses bilingual signs.
"Englewood is one step ahead of other cities. We are seeing a renaissance in the school system and a rejuvenation of our business district. If treated with grace the immigrant can enhance our experience in life," Wildes said.
"Englewood is a mosaic of ethnicity, which distinguishes us in our state and nation. We are privileged to hear many languages. We should take pride and not be shunned for it."
Reproduced from The Suburbanite
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes For Mayor, Assemblyman Arnold Brown, Treasurer
250 Allison Court, Englewood, NJ 07631