Designating English as the Official Language of the United States The United States contains people from every nation with every language and culture known. All of these people help to make the United States the country that it is today. Each of the cultures has their own language and they are all citizens of this country. A citizen means that you have the same rights as every other citizen to speak the language of your birth, to expect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This research will be an argumentative paper with information on both sides of the argument using the statement: “Should English be the Official Language of the United States”. The research in the paper comes from a variety of sources found in the Ashford online library. ProQuest was used to gather most of the information found in this paper. This site was chosen because it listed a variety of sources. Congressman Steve King of Iowa and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma reintroduced the English Language Unity Act of 2011 (H. R. 997 / S. 503).
Rep. King introduced his bill on March 10, 2011. If passed and signed into law, English Language Unity Act will make English the official language of the United States. It would require the establishment of a uniform language requirement for naturalization. It would also set the framework for uniform testing of English language ability for candidates for naturalization (Investment Weekly News, 2011). This bill is based on Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States that says: “To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization. Nowhere in the writing of this Article is it mention by any of the members that English or any language should be designated as an Official Language. If this act is passed it would change the original language of this Article. It would also incorporate a different meaning than what was originally intended. The English Language Unity Act would amend title 4 of the United States Code to add a new chapter, Chapter 6 Official Language and section 161 Official Language of the United States.
It would also add other sections including section 164 and 165. Section 164 Uniform English language rules for naturalization, this section states all citizens should be able to read, and understand the English text in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the laws of the United States. Section 165 Rules of construction, states no agent or officer of the Federal Government while performing official duties shall communicate through any medium in a language other than English. Library of Congress, 2011) ProEnglish, the nation’s leading advocate for English as the official language of the Government “believes that legally recognizing and encouraging English as our common unifying language is good national policy. ” Their belief is based on the fact that English is the language of all of the founding American documents. Studies have shown that those who know English get better jobs, earn more money over a lifetime, are more successful in school, and receive better health care than those who cannot speak the language.
They further believe encouraging English proficiency will decrease the reliance on the federal government. (Investment Weekly News, 2011)Congressional interest in designating English as the official language of the United States has increased. This increase in interest stems from a “perceived challenge” to English as the common language in America. Consideration of official English proposals raises specific issues as to the design of this Act and broader issues regarding Social Policy. Some questions raised were to amend the Constitution or enact an official English statue.
Other questions raised were whether to limit the application only to official government business and whether to address other related areas such as bilingual education. Regarding Social Policy, questions included the need for an official language. Would this act infringe on individual expression and effect cultural diversity. (The Washington Post, 1997) The English Language Unity Act, the legislation sounds great on its premise: that “English is a unifying force in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy. ” (Rep. Steve King, 2009) In its attempt to enshrine that reality in the law is unnecessary and harmful to some citizens of the United States. Some sections of the bill would disadvantage immigrants. Current law requires candidates for naturalization to be tested on their ability to read, write and speak English and their knowledge of civics. King’s bill would require that “all citizens should be able to read and understand generally the English-language text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the laws of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution. ”(Rep.
Steve King, 2009) “Desirable as mastery of our founding documents may be, even many native-born citizens would struggle with their complex and archaic language. ” (Los Angeles Times, 2011) A potential danger to immigrants is the provision requiring that “the official functions of the government of the United States shall be conducted in English. ” That would seem to put in doubt ballots printed in other languages under the Voting Rights Act. Prohibiting such ballots would effectively disenfranchise citizens who only have a working command of English and lack the skills needed to understand complicated ballots. Los Angeles Times, 2011) The most compelling argument against the bill involves symbolism. Its supporters see it as emblematic of the importance of English as a unifying force. But to many immigrants, including some who speak English fluently, the bill symbolizes something else: cultural and political dominance and the petty resentment of those who don’t want to press 1 for English. (Los Angeles Times, 2011) English is our common language, but it is not the only language spoken in the United States.
Making English the official language would relieve the government from the responsibility of providing non-English speakers with language assistance. This could have tragic consequences that would affect the entire nation. Both Federal and State Governments currently provide documents in various languages to assist the citizens of the United States, documents like applications for state driving license or applications for social security cards. The bill would discontinue printing any official document in a language other than English. New York Times Upfront, 2006) Throughout our history, the government and nonprofit organizations like the National Council of La Raza (N. C. L. R. the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group) has helped immigrants learn English and successfully integrate into society at all levels. N. C. L. R. wholeheartedly agrees that everyone should know English. “We would be thrilled with legislation that devoted substantial money to teaching English, but you cannot pass a law declaring English the national language and magically expect everyone to know the language overnight. (Spokesperson for N. C. L. R. )
Making English our official language would hamper the government’s ability to reach out, communicate, and warn people in the event of a natural or man-made disaster such as a hurricane, pandemic, or another terrorist attack. This would put the health and safety of everyone in jeopardy. (New York Times Upfront, 2006) For hundreds of years, immigrants have come to America to contribute to this great nation and work to fulfill the dream of a better life for themselves and their families.
If lawmakers declare English the official language, they will be turning their backs on this common dream as well as their responsibility for the security and safety of the entire nation. (New York Times Upfront, 2006) The English Language Unity Act of 2011 presents a lot of good reasons to pass such and Act, but it also does not examine all of the fall outs of passing such an Act. Passing an Act like this may have been a good ideal a hundred years ago, but now there are too many different cultures represented in the United States to make English the only official language.
If this bill was revised to make English one of the official languages of the United States it would make better sense. The United States major languages according to the 2010 Census report are: English (80. 3 %); Spanish (12. 1 %); Indo-European (3. 5 %); Asian (2. 8 %) and other languages less than 1%. The question is if according the 2010 census report (2010)19. 6 percent of the United States population speak a language other than English as their primary language, why would we only limit our official language to English?