Should English be declared America's national language? A nation of immigrants considers the pros and cons of giving English official status.
Speaking English is a guaranteed way for new immigrants to succeed in school, increase their earning potential, and enhance their career options.
This nation decided long ago that you must know English to become a citizen. So there, is no reason to offer government services in foreign languages. In the same way that the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem bring this nation together, English is something we share and should promote.
In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Martha Sandoval, a Mexican immigrant who had lived in the U.S. for 10 years without learning English, could not sue Alabama because the state did not offer foreign-language driver's license tests.
Other federal courts have held that there's no right to foreign-language government forms, deportation notices, or civil service exams. There are 30 years' worth of cases like these.
Both the courts and America's citizens and immigrants have sent a clear message: We must unite our country behind our proud national language, help new immigrants advance by learning it, and save taxpayer dollars by making English our national language.
--Senator James M. Inhofe Republican of Oklahoma
NO English is our common language, but it is not the only language spoken in the United States. Making English the national language and relieving the government from its responsibility of providing non-English speakers with language assistance could have tragic consequences that would affect the entire nation.
Throughout our history, the government and nonprofit organizations like the National Council of La Raza (N.C.L.R.) have helped immigrants learn English and successfully integrate into society at all levels. (N.C.L.R. is the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group.)
We at N.C.L.R. wholeheartedly agree that everyone should know English. We'd be thrilled with legislation that devoted substantial money to teaching English, but you cannot pass a law declaring English the national language and magically expect everyone to know the language overnight.
Making English our national language hampers the government's ability to reach out, communicate, and warn people in the event of a natural or man-made disaster such as hurricane, pandemic, or, God forbid, another terrorist attack. That puts everyone's health and safety in jeopardy.
For hundreds of years, immigrants have come to America to contribute to this great nation and work to fulfill the dream of a better life for themselves and their families. If lawmakers declare English the national language, they will be turning their backs on this common dream as well as their responsibility for the security and safety of the entire nation.
--Cecilia Munoz Vice President National Council of La Raza
Shane Moynihan (Member): Re:NLCR and mostly some rambling. From an Austrian-English-Irish-French-Dutchman. I mean, American! 11/18/2008 4:35 PM
Buenos tardes. Does legislation making English the official language necessarily have to include a clause relieving the government from language assistance??? I don't think I would support anything like that. Spanish should actually be our official 2nd language. I personally think all Americans should learn Spanish because of the growing population within our borders, and our proximity to Mexico. I dont mean to make it mandatory, but I mean, how can you not feel left out?? It's such an easy language too. It seems Learning a 2nd language has been an afterthought for many of us Americans and I'm not sure why. Our roots are in Europe, and I wouldn't use the word embarassing but let's just say its unfortunate that somehow there is this European (and overall international) perception that we are completely insular, isolated and indifferent to other cultures. And the opportunity to change this is right in our own backyard... literally. But I digress, I meant to talk on here about how English really should be the official language of the U.S. We should definitely throw support behind the Spanish language as well, but English has got to be first. If our educational system is ever going to get a jump-start, it will begin with a more through and attentive approach in school to the English language. Grammar should be drilled into our heads at a much younger age. I was lucky enough to go to a great school called Horace Mann in the Bronx, and all of us were practically ready to be newspaper editors by the 5th, 6th grade. And what that does is it allows you to actually enjoy reading, and learning, and maybe it will slow down the video-game loving, super ADD and ADHD iPhone laptop craze that a lot of people (guilty as charged) have succumbed to. I know Im not supposed to end a sentence with a proposition, but that could be one of the dumbest rules... Anyways, like I said, America's roots are in Europe, specifically Britain. Like a previous blogger had mentioned, the English language is something we can share as Americans, and can unite us. Not to unite us against anyone, just to maintain that fundamental element of a culture (a common language). I know the penduluum is swinging back a bit now on the descendents of white (mostly racist) men, and it has become very difficult to try and make a case for a White or European identity... a Pan-European-American movement, if you will, but just because we are descendents of racists doesn't mean that we are racists ourselves (remember? We won the Civil War)... we now have a black President. We can handle The Confederates and those like-minded, there might be a sudden growth of KKK nuts cause of the election but the stigma in the U.S. against racism is well-planted and is too strong for (sporadically) rampant racism to survive much longer. (give it 10 years haha) Again I digress!!! The point is that we Americans don't have a very long history compared to many other cultures. We should grab onto English and represent our former motherland, the U.K., to the fullest!!!!!!! Here's to English! Viva Inglesa!!!!!!
Tim Burnet (Member): Are you out of your mind? 10/25/2009 3:16 PM
I think you need to do a little checking at the cost of multi language in Canada. Also you will find that country somewhat split because of the dual languages. The first to colonize the United States were English speaking and only after these colonist were established did other language speaking immigrants join in the colonization. The Constitution is and was written in English and that in its self should explain our true national language. The accusation that a predominately white racist majority has anything to do with this country speaking English is both ignorant and racist in itself. I believe some people need to appreciate being an American and speaking American instead of trying to convert our country to what the immigrants was fleeing from in the first place. I hope the author Shane Moynihan was just trying to start an argument and not really that ignorant to these issues or to our history in the United States. Also the majority of the separation of the States was in fact initiated on the grounds of taxation without representation as the northern states wanted to tax the cooperative goods of the south and tried to stop the south from taxing northern industrial goods. As for the War Between the States, General Sherman was pillaging and his men were raping and murdering women and children and executing blacks that%
jason d haydon (Member): English for Americans 11/22/2009 6:31 PM
If I, and most other Americans, where to for some strange, unforseen, reason to move to another country, where say they spoke Spanish (or a creole of Spanish and other languages,) I would learn they language they speak in that country. I would not expect businesses and the government of my adopted country(which I would do legally by the way,) to have to use English to communicate with me, as that is not the language they normally operate under.
Honestly, it makes me sick, standing in line at the grocery store, watching someone use a Lonestar Card(food stamps) and then say things like "no habla Englise." It is ridiculous to provide service to people who have come in here in other languages. It is a drain on our system. As radical as it is, I am very much in favor of the ban that some people have proposed on Spanish and other languages being used by businesses and government. My boyfriend(yes I am gay, and in most cases very liberal) say the same thing. His name is Pedro Jose Aguilar, and his parents were immigrants. He won't speak with them, unless they are speaking in English. I also am going to Peru in a study abroad program next summer, and they speak Spanish there, so I am taking Spanish 1 and 2 next semester, however, I promise, I will not be using it once I return to Texas, because Spanish is not, and should not be our language, and if it is spoken here, should only be done so for academic reasons.
This is the US, our laws are in English, our Constitution is in English, and by god, our govenment and our business should be conducted in English, period, no exceptions.