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June 1, 2007

GOP tries to make English official

Topics: Immigration and Border Issues

In what amounts to just another reason why the immigration bill is a sham, the English-language requirements in the immigration bill are apparently as toothless as the border security provisions, and some Republican senators want the bill to declare English the "national" language of the U.S. and the country's official means of doing business. Given the fact that the Senate is controlled by Democrats, their chances are about equal to the proverbial snowball:

The fight is over whether the bill should call English the "common" language -- as it reads now -- or deem it the "national," or official language, which the Republican senators say would cut the amount of government services provided in other languages and would overturn President Clinton's 2000 executive order that encouraged federal services to be delivered in different languages.
As we posted yesterday, "After dialing a phone number to your bank, local business, or government agency, haven't you ever asked yourself the question, "Why--as an English-speaking native, did I have to press any number?"

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, has proposed an amendment to make English the national language -- a move that he said declares that "there is not an entitlement for language, other than the English language, to be given to people who want government services. Very simple."

Even though the same amendment passed as part of last year's failed immigration bill, many Democrats oppose it, and there is no guarantee that the Senate will allow a vote on it when the chamber finishes the immigration bill next week.

The English issue is closely linked to assimilation, a key part of the immigration debate, and a CBS-New York Times poll last week found that 62 percent of those surveyed thought recent immigrants don't try to learn English "within a reasonable amount of time."

The Senate bill tries to encourage English by making former illegal aliens show after four years on a legal visa that they have applied to take an English class and, after another four years, pass the citizenship test's English requirement before gaining a green card.

In an interview with McClatchy newspapers earlier this week, President Bush said the bill's declaration of English as the common language is a statement of the importance that he places on assimilation.

He campaigned for president in 2000 against making English the official language and in this week's interview said that he instead favors an "English-plus" policy.

So typical of our president; he prefers to tell us what we want to hear rather than deliver what we want - assimilation, border security, and no benefits for those that have broken our laws by getting into our country and then again breaking our laws by remaining here.
K.C. McAlpin, executive director of ProEnglish, said the bill's requirements to learn English are empty because they don't kick in for at least eight years. He also said the test is "a very meaningless hurdle" that requires immigrants to write and read two sentences each in English.
"Two sentences each in English! Is there any part of this bill that isn't a total sham?

Posted by Richard at June 1, 2007 6:07 AM

Why not have a dual language nation? To say America must have only one primary language is somewhat limiting in my view. For instance, the average European speaks three languages. I see no reason why we couldn't or shouldn't have a multilingual educational system to help facilitate the cohesion created from effective communication. Taking a more macro view of the issue, globalization is creating ever more opportunities for those who can help facilitate collaboration across linguistic boundaries. In Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat" he makes a case that the next great commodity will be the effective collaborator. I just feel that to limit America to one language seems much too isolationist.

-The Monkey

Posted by: The Monkey at June 5, 2007 12:45 PM

Monkey's points are well taken, but they don't address the issue of assimilation and and a cohesive society being important to its survival. We need only look to what's happening in Europe - what has become our canary in the coal mine of multiculturalism. I'm no social scientist, but esoteric "feel good" steps for a kumbaya have so far resulted in societal disasters.

No problem on encouraging language education, it would be great if we all spoke two or more languages. But let's start with us all speaking at least one of the same - English, the most common language spoken in the U.S. Let's at least be able to communicate.

Try going to France and speak English in a restaurant (but be sure you pack a lunch else you die of hunger before you get fed). Yes, some speak English, but they sure let you know they think you're a jerk for not speaking French - "their" language.

Oh, one more thing. We'll be giving "Monkey" a pass on the spam link - this time! We usually delet comments linking to commercial sites, but Monkey's comments appear sincere and in the interest of discussion. Of course, we're always open to ads if monkey would like to advertise at Hyscience.

Posted by: Richard at June 5, 2007 2:28 PM

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