A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that “84% of likely voters support making English the nation's official language." The survey also finds: "Just 12% of voters believe that requiring employees to speak English is a form of racism or bigotry. Seventy-nine percent (79%) reject that notion and believe the requirement is not racist or bigoted. Both these findings, too, are virtually unchanged from when the questions were first asked in November 2007."
The reality is that supporting the effort to establish English as the official language cannot be equated to discouraging multilingualism or the imported cultures that have made this country great. Rather, official English efforts seek to achieve two objectives: 1) to encourage all individuals to learn a common language, the language of our Founding Fathers, that will provide them with equal opportunity to achieve the American dream, and 2) to limit the amount of taxpayer dollars that funds these expensive government-mandated multilingual translation services.
Non-English speaking U.S. residents have been given a false sense of equal opportunity because so many services have been provided in their native language at the taxpayers’ expense. Ironically, supporters of unlimited translations services are often guilty of what has been called the “soft bigotry of low expectations” by refusing to believe that immigrants who do not speak English are unable to learn it. Those who believe it is compassionate to tolerate immigrants’ avoiding learning English and instead mandate costly multilingual services are actually making it considerably more difficult for that immigrant to improve their educational and economic status.
In an April 2009 report entitled “The Value of English Proficiency to the United States Economy,” the Lexington Institute found that the median income for English learner households in the U.S. was $25,604 in 1999, or about 60% of the $42,000 median household income for the rest of the population. The number of English learner families living in poverty, at 26.3%, was more than twice the rate nationally.
All immigrants should understand that learning English is essential to their hope of pursuing the American dream and that learning English enables them to improve their skills and earning power. Just like earlier immigrants to the United States, immigrants today have a responsibility to learn our nation’s founding language and assimilate into the American culture. It is a gross injustice that American taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for today’s immigrants to avoid learning the common language.
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