Today’s Dallas Morning News has a short, but important, editorial about the proposed immigration reform bill. The editorial is directed at those who fear an influx of immigrants is a threat to American culture. Here is the editorial:

American Culture

What worries some Americans about all this immigration talk in Washington is that new waves of immigrants could so change our culture that America no longer seems recognizable. The worry is a legitimate one. Our country has always churned with change, but none of us want to lose sight of our history, ideals and customs.

Given the red-hot rhetoric surrounding the Senate’s immigration bill, you may not think the proposal responds to those worries. It does, though, and in a constructive way. For example, the legislation would:

*Require every immigrant who qualifies as a permanent legal resident to learn English and take civics classes before they become citizens.

The bill is very detailed about what’s included in those civics classes. Immigrants must learn about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, major court decisions and the civil rights movement, among other parts of our national story.

They likewise must know about the founding fathers, various elected officials, scientists, inventors, equal-rights activists, entrepreneurs and artists. All of that would require a working proficiency in English, too.

*Let the Department of Homeland Security constantly review and update the nationalization test and assist immigrants who want to become citizens.

We hope a large part of the money devoted to helping immigrants assimilate goes to nonprofits, churches and other nongovernment organizations. Mediating institutions, like small churches, often are in a better position to reach immigrants than the feds.

*Put on the Internet a curriculum designed to teach English to those who don’t know it. Nonprofits and other local groups could download it and train immigrants in English. Today, the curriculum can be expensive to purchase.

There’s value in preserving America’s heritage, including the use of English. The immigration bill being fought in Washington embraces that value, which is one more reason for the Senate to pass the legislation. It will ensure that our customs are passed on to future immigrants.