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Blog: English as our Official Language? Really?

Feb 03, 2012 | By Eric Gibble

The English Language Unity Act of 2011 (H.R. 997), introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IO), has been dormant on Capitol Hill since its introduction in March. This bill would recognize English as the official language of the United States and mandates that the United States only naturalize immigrants who speak English. The disheartening immigration rhetoric raised in the Republican presidential primary has combined with the political resolve of people trying to promote an English-only agenda while distracting voters from the key issues during this election year.

After the recent remarks from all four Republican contenders in support of this type of legislation, Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) stated, “I support efforts to make English the official language and may consider bringing up the issue in the House Judiciary Committee down the road.” This goes against the long-standing American values and tradition of accepting immigrants of all backgrounds.

The political reality is that a minority of lawmakers in Congress are politically maneuvering themselves to highlight the president’s opposition to such a law in an election year. President Obama’s opposition was made clear in his vote against an English-only amendment to a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007.

Much of this is simply rooted in racism as the Hispanic population in our country continues to rise. Data show that second-generation Hispanic immigrants, by a vast 88 percent majority, speak English fluently.

We must find pride in being one of the most diverse nations in the world and should not try to diminish or limit that principle. For 235 years, our nation has experienced waves of diverse immigrants who have spoken a variety of languages. Whether they are European or Asian, German or Hispanic, our tradition of welcoming immigrants of all language backgrounds must be preserved in order to build a more perfect union.