Suzanne Bibby, Director of Government Relations Published on 01 February 2013
Supporters of the Senate and White House plans for amnesty for illegal aliens say one of their requirements will be that newcomers to America learn English.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said in a news conference about the plan outlined by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” that illegal aliens “will have to, for the first time in U.S. history, learn English to be able to even become a permanent resident.”
However, Bob Vandervoort, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group Pro-English, told WND in an interview he’s seen “no hard evidence” to suggest that applicants for amnesty will be compelled to learn English.
He said the instruction to learn English is included, but “there is no enforcement mechanism.” Pro-English lobbies to make English the only official language of the U.S.
Vandervoort noted that in the 1986 Amnesty Act, the government “actually interviewed” the applicants, “which was one way that they were able to screen for English.” The 2013 plans, however, has no such strategy, he said.
Suzanne Bibby, director of government relations for Pro-English, said the bill could be improved to “put in specific tests for the applicants to demonstrate proficiency.” She noted there was “nothing in the 2007 plan that forced them to show competency” and that the amnesty plan of 2007 served “as a template” for the 2013 plan.
“These proposals have been in the DREAM Act … but it is put in there to satisfy legislators but there is no teeth in it,” she said.
Vandervoort elaborated. “All they had to do was to show they were enrolled in a community college, that would qualify them in the DREAM Act, then once they got the amnesty, they simply withdraw from the class,” he said.
According to a 2007 Migration Policy Institute report, 57 percent of “limited English proficient” adolescents nationwide are born in the U.S. Up to 27 percent are members of the second generation, and 30 percent are third generation, meaning many students educated exclusively in U.S. schools still cannot speak English fluently.
Though an English language amendment is possible, Vandervoot remains pessimistic. “Until we see actual legislation with concrete proposals … I am not very optimistic, because it makes the bill more receivable,” he said.
Vandervoort called it nothing more than a diversion. “It is just a fig leaf to accomplish their overall goal of achieving amnesty,” he said.
Bibby also made mention of the “hardship waiver” as a means for amnesty applicants to skirt the English learning requirement. She said exemptions are allowed if for people who can prove they’ve suffered hardship or are too old.
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