Shelby gets new citizens

Published 12:41 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

With the news that Shelby County has the state’s third-highest percentage of Hispanics comes a stark realization: that’s not going to change. The Hispanic population is currently at 8 percent and rising. Immigrants want to move to Shelby County for the same reasons everyone else does — the low unemployment rate, great schools and family-friendly communities. They’re just following the opportunities, much like all of us do to help our families and friends.

It’s important to remember that many of those immigrants are legal. Those people, who have worked hard to move to this country and try to gain a better life, have just as much right to be here as the rest of us. They deserve to be treated with respect and compassion as they try to learn an unfamiliar language and adjust to a different kind of culture.

Toward that end, we applaud the work done by the county and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama to bring a branch to Pelham. The services HICA offers will undoubtedly improve the lives of native Spanish speakers who are struggling to navigate this confusing world.

We also want to give recognition to the volunteers that donate their time to teach English classes for Spanish speakers. This service truly helps immigrants learn our language and culture. As much as we pride ourselves on knowing our neighbors, we Southerners can be hard to get to know. Our new residents deserve a little help.

We Say is the Shelby County Reporter’s weekly staff editorial.