Last week during a hearing of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee about the English Language Unity Act, a bill sponsored by Representative Steve King (R-IA) that would mandate the federal government to use only English in official communications, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) took a stand by delivering his opening statement entirely in Spanish.
Rep. Conyers is not a native Spanish speaker, but chose to stand with the millions of Americans that speak languages other than English and bring light to the rich multicultural and multilingual heritage that has helped shape the United States. A translated portion of his statement reads, “Today, immigrants from Asia or Latin America are the targets of demonization and discrimination. One day, our nation will again look back on this period with shame and regret.”
Several members of Congress echoed Rep. Conyers’s sentiments and expressed their concern that the proposed legislation does not provide any English learning assistance and would have a harmful impact on civil rights. The bill would endanger language equality for naturalization and other services that could impact new, elderly or vulnerable migrants for whom English language learning presents a challenge.
Bills like the English Language Unity Act ignore the strong multicultural history of the United States and undermine efforts to foster the spirit of welcome for those who come to this country. Visit the LIRS Action center to tell your leaders that you support policies that create a welcoming environment for newcomers of all languages and cultures.