Long has been the debate whether or not English should be the official language of the United States. The rhetoric on both side of the argument has been heated and long-winded. Both sides have well formulated points and stick to them stanchly. The immovability leads one to wonder: which side of the argument has the correct answer; is the answer somewhere in between; and can we find empirical evidence to back one side or the other. Only with an examination of the beliefs, fears, and the facts as they stand presently, can one conclude with the correct answer.
To start this examination, a clarification of terms is in order. The opponents of any law making English the official language refer to the supporters of English as the official language as The English Only Movement. The No English as Official Language (NEOL) side of the debate believes the Office English Movement (OEM) side wants to exclude all other languages from the United State. The NOEL refers to the OEM as the English Only movement. The renaming is an attempt to shape the debate in their favor. As for this paper, each will be refer to as they refer to themselves,
The ACUL testified, before House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on the English Language Unity Act of 2011, placing themselves squarely on the NOEL side. The ACLU argued:
• “unwise and dangerous policy with negative ramifications for a wide range of federal functions ranging from tax collection to voting access to naturalization procedures;
• clearly contrary to civil rights laws protecting language minorities from discrimination based on national origin;
• unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause;
• based on false premises about immigrants’ and language minorities’ English proficiency and assimilation (unfairly targeting, in particular, Latinos and Asian Americans).” (Murphy, Vagins and Lin)
The examples of negative ramification, according to the ACLU, are the hindrance with well-organized federal administration, such as “tax collection, voter registration, ballot access, the process of naturalization,” (Murphy, Vagins and Lin). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would have a harder time getting taxes from Limited English Proficient (LEP) people. The IRS currently publishes the instruction in five languages other than English, including Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese (IRS.gov). The ACLU also cite Executive Order 13166 issued by President Clinton in 2000 commenting the federal government to set aside money to fund many service to LEP who would otherwise have trouble doing so. The ACLU also fears the disenfranchisement of LEP’s access to the voting booth leaving them out of the processes of democracy. The ACLU continues of LEPs not have access to social services and claims that English only violate the Civil right act of 1964 by cutting of as well as equal protection clause of the Constitution.
The ACLU is not the only opposition the...