Tucson (AZ): Official-dumb wants English to be 'official'
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Thu Jun 29 13:29:38 UTC 2006
>>From the Tucson Citizen, 06.28.2006
Our Opinion: Official-dumb wants English to be 'official'
Immigrants and natives alike may struggle to learn English, but they
inevitably find that they cannot get by in the U.S. without it. Shame on
Arizona legislators, who blew their chance to reduce illegal immigration
legitimately by penalizing the employers of such immigrants. Rather than
risk alienating their backers in business, lawmakers instead opted to send
two ineffectual and mean-spirited measures to the November ballot.
One would further disenfranchise all residents who aren't fluent in
English - including native Arizonans of Mexican descent as well as those
who speak Tohono O'odham, Navajo or another American Indian tongue. The
second measure would, among other things, bar illegal immigrants from
obtaining subsidies for child care or adult education, as well as in-state
tuition rates and financial aid for college. The "official English"
resolution, HCR2036, deems English the "official language" of Arizona and
requires government to "preserve, protect and enhance" the role of our
language. We didn't realize English was in such peril, especially since
all official documents - from proposed laws such as this one to court
orders, subpoenas, municipal proclamations and police reports - already
are in English. English long has been the de facto language of not only
Arizona, but all of the United States. And while immigrants and natives
alike may struggle to master English, they inevitably find that they
cannot get by without it. A 1988 proposition making English our "official"
language was struck down by the Arizona Supreme Court as violating the
First Amendment. This version, too, would adversely affect the
constitutional rights of non-English-speaking people. We assume Arizona
voters are too smart to enact this useless measure. But if they do, rest
assured, the courts will strike it down again.
The second measure, SCR1031, is counterproductive to our communities and,
as state Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix, noted, reminiscent of "the Alabamas
and Mississippis of the 1960s." Particularly pernicious is the move to
prevent illegal immigrants' children, who were brought to this country by
their parents, from attending college using financial aid, academic
scholarships or in-state tuition rates. Educational opportunities for
Arizona children always should be encouraged, whoever the parents. The
effort to bar child-care subsidies could imperil young children if working
parents must leave them at home unattended when the subsidies stop. In
both cases, children would be punished for the sins of their parents.
That is not - and never should be - an appropriate avenue for Arizona
policy. Once more, legislators have shown a predilection to eschew useful
laws, such as penalties for employers of illegal immigrants, in favor of
being cowardly and mean-spirited.
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