Ari­zona makes English of­fi­cial lan­guage

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Eric Pfeif­fer

Ari­zona vot­ers over­whelm­ingly made English the state’s of­fi­cial lan­guage on Nov. 7, sup­port­ing a mea­sure that also calls on lo­cal gov­ern­ments to pro­mote its pre­em­i­nence.

The bal­lot ini­tia­tive, viewed by many as a back­lash against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, passed with 74 per­cent of the vote. It does con­tain ex­emp­tions for “ar­eas where for­eign lan­guage use is pro­tected,” in­clud­ing emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices.

“English is es­sen­tial to the prom­ise of equal op­por­tu­nity in Amer­ica,” said K.C. McAlpin, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of ProEnglish, a Vir­ginia-based group that sup­ports mak­ing English the of­fi­cial lan­guage of the United States.

With the pas­sage of Propo­si­tion 103, Ari­zona joins 28 other states, in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia and Texas, and 52 na­tions that have des­ig­nated English as their of­fi­cial lan­guage.

De­spite its pas­sage by a nearly 3-1 mar­gin, Lor­raine Lee, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of Chi­canos Por La Causa, an Ari­zona-based non­profit com­mu­nity-de­vel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion, said it sends a bad mes­sage to im­mi­grants try­ing to as­sim­i­late.

“It makes me very fear­ful of what the fu­ture holds be­cause I think that this may po­ten­tially send out a mes­sage that it’s OK to con­tinue to bash im­mi­grants,” she told the Ari­zona Daily Star.

In 1988, Ari­zona vot­ers nar­rowly passed a sim­i­lar mea­sure, 50 per­cent to 49 per­cent, but it called for all of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment busi­ness to be con­ducted in English. It was struck down unan­i­mously by the state Supreme Court be­cause it in­ter­fered with ac­cess to gov­ern­ment.

Mr. McAlpin said he was con­fi­dent that the latest mea­sure ad­dressed the court’s con­cerns and would be up­held. It does call on state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment to limit use of dual lan­guage in printed ma­te­rial for cir­cu­la­tion.

Pre-elec­tion polling in­di­cated that about 50 per­cent of His­panic vot­ers sup­ported Propo­si­tion 103 and two other mea­sures that called on deny­ing il­le­gal aliens ac­cess to bail and puni­tive dam­ages in le­gal pro­ceed­ings. Those mea­sures also passed.

Pas­sage of a fourth bal­lot mea­sure that calls for deny­ing il­le­gal aliens ac­cess to adult ed­u­ca­tion and in-state col­lege tu­ition rates was op­posed by 66 per­cent of His­pan­ics.

A Zogby poll com­mis­sioned by ProEnglish last year found that 84 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­ported mak­ing English the of­fi­cial lan­guage.

“English is our na­tional lan­guage. It’s time for Congress to fol­low the ex­am­ple of Ari­zona and 27 other states and de­clare English the of­fi­cial lan­guage of the United States,” said Mr. McAlpin.

Ac­cord­ing to 2000 U.S. Cen­sus data, 16.3 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion — or more than 41.6 mil­lion peo­ple — did not speak English.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.