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Con: Having an official language would push back progress


March 7, 2010 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated March 7, 2010 at 9:08 p.m.

Rosie Gonzales, of Refugio, grew up learning Spanish at home and English at school, but believes adopting a bill that would make English the official language could bring animosity toward immigrants.

Matt Simpson, policy strategist of the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas, put it this way: "On the general level, it would be somewhat dividing."

H.R.997, the English Language Unity Act of 2009, aims to declare English as the official U.S. language. The bill would require government and business communication to be be conducted in English.

"I think this is a solution in search of a problem." Simpson said. "What typically happens, even by the second generation, is they start learning English and becoming more and more part of the modern society."

Gonzales said it's important for U.S. citizens to learn English, but said it's also important for Hispanics to keep their heritage and language.

Olympia Montano, of Victoria, said she taught Spanish and English to each of her four children.

"There's no doing away with it," Montano said.

Considering families like the Montanos, Simpson said the bill would be a step back for the country.

"I guarantee that there would be policy makers, social services, that would be undermined by moving toward English-only," Simpson said.

"You will probably have more arguments," said Veronica Mayer, a Victoria, stay-at-home mom. "It's kind of hard to compete with English and Spanish."

Simpson also disagreed with the Texas attempts to make English the state's official language, which was introduced by state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler.

"It doesn't seem right for the state to make an official language. Basically, the founding fathers of America didn't do it, and it was purposeful," Simpson said. "It doesn't make sense for Texas to make it."

Mayer said the benefits of being a country with people who are bilingual are numerous.

"Many jobs ask if you are bilingual, and it can also boost business," Mayer said.

Related story: Pro: English should be official language of U.S.



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