Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

As Obama tackles immigration, Texas legislator suggests immigrants Americanize names

Immigrants march for their rights

The White House is making plans to roll out an immigration reform proposal next month, one that would make good on President Obama's promise to Hispanic voters to tackle the thorny issue.

On tap, White House aide Cecilia Munoz told reporters this week, is a reform package that "controls immigration and makes it an orderly system," one that would also provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

With 6 million Americans out of work, many of them blue-collar employees who believe immigrants are pushing them out of their jobs, conservatives predicted tough political sledding for any reform effort. "They will face a bloodbath," GOP commentator Pat Buchanan said this morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

But one Republican legislator in Texas has a unique spin on how to help immigrants, and even second- and third-generation Americans, assimilate. Republican Betty Brown said this week she thinks Americans of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent should change their names to make it easier for poll workers to identify them.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the comment came late Tuesday as the House Elections Committee heard testimony from Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting because they may have a legal trans-literated name and then a common English name used on driver’s licenses or school registrations.

Brown, who with her husband Ron operates a ranch near Terrell on land that has been in her family for four generations, suggested that Asian Americans should find a way to make their names more accessible. She said:

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here? ... Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?

No word on how Ko responded. Perhaps, like us, he was speechless. But Texas Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie found plenty of words. He accused Republicans in Texas of trying to suppress votes with a partisan identification bill and Brown of "adding insult to injury with her disrespectful comments. "Brown spokesman Jordan Berry said Brown was not making a racially motivated comment but was trying to resolve an identification problem. He also said Democrats are trying to sensationalize her comments because polls show most Texans support requiring identification for voting.

-- Johanna Neuman

Click here to register for automatic tweets on each new Ticket item.

Photo: David McNew / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (19)

The comments to this entry are closed.

It shouldn't be surprising that someone like Johanna Neuman would be speechless; not understanding things is what MSM reporters are paid to do. I'm not familiar with Asian languages, but with Slavic languages there are issues with transliterations, even with those that don't use Cyrillic but which have letters that aren't used in English. For instance, you can see some Polish letters that aren't used in English here:

How would names using those letters be transliterated into the alphabet we use? Could it be transliterated different ways for different documents and cause ID problems?

Why, yes it could.

If Johanna Neuman were a real reporter, she'd seek out non-politicized experts who could help her understand these issues rather than simply acting like a mild version of ThinkProgress.

What "American" names would he like? vonTausand, Barelli, Ericksen, Erickson, Monet, vanSlike? O'Reilly?
Is he really saying, "Gee, I'd like everyone to have a name like mine? I'm an American so that's ok.

A racist Republican - what a surprise. I guess they're too stupid to realize why they are a shrinking party.

Unlike the other immigrants, Asians are pretty smart and aggreable people. In Indonesia, Chinese nationals change their name to Indonesian names to assimilate themselves.

They believe in group harmony and if this is a way to make peace with everyone, Im pretty sure they would be open to this idea. It is only the race warmongers who make a fuss about this.

I will never change my unique name!!!! Isn't America a synonyme of diversity, if you can't pronounce my name I won't get offended, but it really is your problem and not mine, this is the only western country that doesn't value bilingualism. It's time to be less ethnocentric and obsessed with the "greatness" of your country!

Few of these people want to be Americans anyway! They want to keep their foreign culture which is anethema to most Americans. It was the dream of my immigrant grandparents to become Americans and blend in to become a part of this culture. They'd fly the old country's flag in their heart and to Stars and Stripes in their yard! I am thrilled that the Obama administration has the courage to tackle this astounding problem (illegal immigration). If we don't get it fixed, our country is finished!


Betty Brown is an idiot.

So what's the Iroquois equivalent of "Connelly," the name my ancestors brought with them to America?

Names dont matter, what matters is for Immigrants who become US citizens, take in American values and way of thinking. No Immigrants from an Islamic country can be an american and follow the way of thinking as in your islamic country. If you become an american then that's what you have to be and live. Don't use your belief's as a excuess not to follow our laws.

Maybe Barak should switch back to Barry so that Betty Brown can remember our president's name?

Plantation masters and slave owners of early American history made it a crime for black slaves to keep their birth given name. It was better to identify and keep track of slaves.

Settlers of the West took the children of Native American tribes and forced them into boarding schools to make them more "Americanized" so that they would have a greater potential of success in America. The first step was forced removal from their family and tribe, the second step was the death of their names.

Two shameful acts of history that has been deplored and denounced. But what a coincidence that the reasonings for both sound a lot like what our generous Texan lawmaker has argued as the basis for her comment.

So change my name to Smith? Or how about just giving me a serial number? Stamp it on my body somewhere.

My family has been here for at least 6 generations, but somehow I got stuck with this Greek name. Should I change my name too?

Liz Wetzel, could you be anymore patronizing? Chinese were forced into changing their names into Indonesia because they feared the government and have been persecuted.

In the good old US of A, I won't and shouldn't change my Chinese name thanks very much.

Should Barack Obama, let alone his Asian sister and Asian brother-in-law change their names too?

In this melting economy and our lawmakers complete resistance to the US publics policies. American patriots must do the right thing and stop this violation of Federal law. No doubt it will be very difficult because the administration in power, is run by Left wing Democrats. Sen. David Vitter, Republican-LA has drafted S95, a law if enacted, could kill all funding to any city that is infamously branded a "Sanctuary City." With indifference to American populations outcry any city that entertains as a refuge to illegal immigrants. They will have to search the deep pockets of their business co-conspirators, to insure costs for services. We all know the 50 Senators including Harry Reid, and Madam Pelosi who secretly suppressed e-verify, so that more than 300.000 illegal labor, could compete for jobs with American Workers. Reid of Nevada, as Mrs. Pelosi of California aware that their states were inundated with illegal aliens, so they had to do something? Likely the reason they made funding for E-Verify funding disappear?

What are any of these idiots thinking, when their are 10 million jobless Americans right now in these United States? They must be undead zombies not to realize without any logic, that we can't afford to subsidize as estimated by the Heritage Foundation 40 million illegal aliens? Perhaps professional people in limited numbers with absolute skills in the scientific fields. But certainly not uneducated, indigent labor who competes with legal low skilled whites, blacks or any other color, creed or religion? We all must be bloody fools not to recognize, that California nearly went into a $47 billion dollar crash. Because of the payout to the illegal poor who have figured out the way to short change Americans of their pay checks.

A great example of the avenue illegal aliens have fraudulently, exploited free money is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In his book financial analyst and economist Edwin Rubinstein. He states that (EITC) is the largest anti-poverty program in the United States -- and the most illegal-immigrant friendly. In 2007, more than 23 million households received more than $47 billion in the EITC payments. Much of the so-called "tax relief" goes to people who never paid a cent in taxes, and may have already defrauded the government of huge sums each year. EITC has become yet another means of depriving hard-working Americans of their own resources. It robs some to give to others. he EITC is the most accessible of the major entitlement programs and used by more people than food stamps and welfare (TANF)* combined he admits.
Also know America settles more new legal immigrants, than any place on Mother Earth. Over 1.5 million immigrants were nationalized last year.

Should this law get the backing of millions of Americans, we have the tremendous influence to sever most welfare benefits and government handouts, to anybody who steals into a sovereign country without being processed. In states like California where in just Los Angeles county alone, an estimated 4 million illegal nationals have settled there. The clogged schools have become a breeding ground for violence, because non-English comprehension is prevalent there. Even the main school office English is spoken as a second language. The people’s safety net is now overwhelmed by families, who have learned to tap every social welfare program available. Legal or otherwise! Even Federal programs-for citizens only-- has been compromised, including low income housing, pre-natal and after birth care, hospital emergency care, where the illegal uninsured, dumped on the entrance to a hospital by pirate contractors and business owners. It is Left for the taxpayer, to pick up the bill. Not just for major injury, but for flue, nail fungus or anything minor--and its free. All the while citizens are interrogated for their insurance card, social security number or money to pay. They get Scott-free care and we get a phone call from a debt collector or end up in front of a bankruptcy judge. California was just one state where local government has intentionally ignored the "Rule of Law." Poor foreign nationals have turned our neighborhoods into littered streets and heinous crime scenes as never before in our history.

Today we have a slender chance to stop this caricature of our laws. Call, write, fax or phone and make your demands real to these pro-illegal immigrant legislators. It seems their arrogant attitude can overrule the will of THE PEOPLE. The president has already informed us that an Amnesty is being readied. The problem is after the 1986 Amnesty, we were avidly promised--NO MORE. If yet another Amnesty is passed, the impoverished outside our lands will keep coming. Taxpayers have--and will be a permanent--THE BEAST OF BURDEN. Taxpayer in-perpetuity will be expected to carry in social services for every lawbreaker. We cannot afford another Amnesty. Every family from Guatemala, Kowloon and Bombay can sponsor all and every relative they possess and you end up paying for our traitorous politicians.

Go to CAPSWEB to utilize their petition to condemn Sanctuary cities. Read the facts at NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIALWATCH, FAIR AND AMERICAN PATROL:

Wow!! Jenn sounds really angry about something!! How about this for a solution: Why can't states like California stop offering services to just anyone. Help: it's in your face all the time, whether you need it or not. Like here, I know you'll be okay, but here's a free lunch. It's almost like there's a quota of how many new people to get into the system! People aren't milking the system, the "system" is redundant and is milking the people! Change the system and help the people. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps or shoelaces, whatever you have, and make your life happen. As I remember, that's what my parents did without any help from the govt. This isn't the first time for us to be in this situation. You don't NEED assistance unless you are at the end of the rope. Yeah life is tough sometimes, most of the time, but come on! We should concentrate on the basics of where the problems start, help there, then let those help themselves. The basics should be: want vs. necessity, getting mothers paid maternity leave, affordable health insurance, and protecting the middle class who are the real economy. The world works on a system of you pay in you can take out. If you don't or haven't paid in, you shouldn't take out. But stop blaming it on the immigrants. I know plenty of non-immigrants who get what they don't deserve. The immigrants aren't the problem, the system is.

Sorry, jenn isnt' who I was addressing. It was Brittanicus.

Asking an Asian person to change their name because a certain Texas Legislator finds it hard to pronounce is just as silly as asking the Texas Legislator to be lobotomized because she’s an idiot.

This is pretty ridiculous. :/ I mean, there are some very hard names out there, regardless of ethnic backgrounds. |:

I totally understand the poor transliteration... but for languages such as Chinese and Japanese... there IS a system in place already.... such as romanji and pin ying.

Why they continue to transliterate words such as "xiao" to "shiaw" ... I have no idea. =='

But also, I like my last name. It's two letters, it's not hard to pronounce at all.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: