[lg policy] Carroll County (Maryland) makes English the official language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 27 21:59:34 UTC 2013


Carroll County makes English the official language
By Fredrick Kunkle,January 24, 2013

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to make English
the official language, capping an impassioned, four-month debate about
whether the measure’s primary effect would be to save money or send a rude
message to immigrants.

The unanimous vote by the five-member, all-Republican board makes Carroll
the third Maryland county, after Frederick and Queen Anne’s, to pass such a
law.

Commissioner Haven N. Shoemaker Jr., who introduced the ordinance Sept. 28,
said his aim was to make sure the county would not be obligated to pay to
translate documents into foreign languages at taxpayer expense. He said
that at least 30 states have declared English their official language.

“This is normal everywhere, I guess, except for Maryland, and you can draw
your own conclusions as to why that’s the case,” Shoemaker said Thursday.

Shoemaker also said the county’s public school system was paying
interpreters to attend parent-teacher meetings. Carey Gaddis, a spokeswoman
for the Carroll County school system, said after the meeting that
interpreters are considered an essential service and receive $27.30 an hour.

CASA of Maryland and the local chapter of the NAACP joined opponents in
saying the measure sent a negative message not just to immigrants but also
to businesses.

Amy McNichols, a professor of Spanish at McDaniel College in Westminster,
the county seat, said she was disappointed but not surprised by the board’s
decision. She told the board at Thursday’s meeting and a public hearing in
December that the measure was addressing a nonexistent problem, especially
in light of studies that show that every wave of immigrants has
overwhelmingly embraced English over time.

“What they seek to address is not really going to be a reality in the
future,” she said. “And I have a lot of students who really wish they could
speak their family’s language.”

The proposal touched off a fierce debate in a county whose farms and rural
vistas have been changing into suburban shopping plazas and bedroom
communities. The county, about 35 miles north of Baltimore, is
overwhelmingly white and conservative, with 65 percent of the vote for
president going to Republican Mitt Romney in November.

In a population of about 167,000, only about 4,400 residents are Latinos,
the county’s fastest-growing immigrant group, according to the Census
Bureau.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-24/local/36521106_1_official-language-carroll-county-county-seat

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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