House Passes English Only and Repeal of Bilingual Ballots
Urge Your Senators to Reject this Divisive Legislation Now
The House of Representatives gave the Hispanic community another slap in the face on Thursday when it passed the English Language Empowerment Act after six ours of rancorous debate. The bill declares English the official language of the United States and repeals provisions of the Bilingual Voting Rights Act that required states with large concentrations of non-English-speaking
voters to provide bilingual voting ballots. The legislation would prohibit government employees from communicating in languages other than English. The bill exempts documents and speech dealing with national security, international trade, public health and safety, the Census and foreign phrases.
The legislation would negatively impact the provision of services to Americans with limited English proficiency and disenfranchise millions of Americans now making use of bilingual ballots. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate and may come to a vote when Senators return from their recess this September. Please contact your Senators while they are on recess and urge them to vote against any form of the English Only bill. The Senate switchboard number is (202) 225-3121.
English Only legislation is a bad idea because:
* English Only is incredibly divisive because it sends the message that the culture of language minorities is inferior and illegal. With a dramatic increase in hate crimes and right wing terrorist attacks in the United States, the last thing we need is a frivolous bill to fuel the fires of racism.
* English Only is unnecessary because over 97 percent of Americans already speak English and those who don't are eagerly trying to learn. English language classes have three-year waiting lists in Los Angeles and New York and current immigrants are learning English at a faster rate than their predecessors.
* English Only makes America less competitive because it encourages ignorance and monolingualism in an increasingly global economy.
* English Only disenfranchises millions of Americans from those who are supposed to represent them by eliminating bilingual ballots and preventing representatives from communicating with their constituents in a language other than English.
* English Only is an unnecessary government intrusion on personal liberty because it gives government officials open license to regulate how Americans talk. For example, in a Texas child custody case, a state judge threatened to remove a child from the custody of her mother because the mother had spoken Spanish to her daughter.
* English Only is punitive not proactive because it punishes people for not speaking English rather than providing funds for English language instruction which would help people learn the language. If Congress was serious about increasing English fluency in the United States it would pass English Plus legislation that would promote English speaking and encourage Americans to become bilingual.
For further information contact Selena Walsh, League of United Latin American Citizens, 1133 20th St., NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 408-0060,