Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: ¿hable inglés? .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Monday, May 29, 2006

¿hable inglés?

The immigration bill that passed the Senate and now goes to House has general support from both Democrats and Republicans at all levels of government, although no one seems to support all aspects of the bill. Some are not happy with the guest worker program, and some are not happy with the criminalization of hardworking people who are just looking for a better life for themselves and their families. The portion that raises my ire is the part that makes English the official language of the United States.

I have no problem with calling English our common language. In reality, English is the language of success in this country. What I take issue with is the language in the bill which states that the government has no obligation to make any information available in any language other than English.

Businesses realize that to succeed, you need to make your services easily accessible to everyone. Most product owners manuals provide instructions in multiple languages, and they’re still incomprehendable. To make our information available only in English smacks of isolationism - not just from other nations, but from some classes of our own people as well.

Education in this country is in poor condition, with record numbers of dropouts and students who are performing well below standards. Yet our lawmakers see the need to limit services to those that lack English reading skills, rather than doing something to improve the reading skills of all classes of Americans.

Many immigrants, once they learn English, become top performers in school. Instead of allowing these students to accellerate their learning, this legislation will hamstring them by denying them bilingual opportunities as they learn our language.

This legislation will limit access to public services, including emergency service and voting procedures, to only those with adequate reading skills. If you thought hanging chads were a controversy, wait until only those who can read well will have their votes counted. It’s a form of class warfare, promoting the haves over the have-nots.

Not everyone has a babel fish, or the good fortune of being born into an English speaking family. This legislation, if passed as currently written, means that services now available to all citizens need only be provided to those who can read English. What better way to limit the voices of Americans than to put limits on how they can communicate?

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