Similar to the fact that America has no official (coercive) religion, America has no official language. Much like Christianity has been our root and predominate religion, English has traditionally been the language of the land, the language of our Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.
While Christianity should not be federally mandated, English as our official language should be a mandatory part of citizenry, not optional. In other words, our government needs to stop catering to a swelling non-English speaking portion of our population.
In our country, according to the 2000 census, 21.3 million people (8% of our population) were classified as “limited English proficient;" and 5 million of them were born here.
Statistics shown by Language Use in the U.S., 2011 "provides illustrative evidence of the continuing and growing role of non-English languages as part of the national fabric."
The reasons why any country needs to be united in language should be fairly obvious, being that the end goal is to unite all citizens in a common bond while improving the lives of immigrants and native-born inhabitants.
As it stands now, accommodating non-English speakers is expensive. For examples:
- The total annual cost for the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to provide language services is $2.2 million. Providing the same level of DMV translation services nationwide would cost approximately $8.5 million per year.
- The total cost of providing multilingual services for the Immigration and Naturalization Service would be between $114 million and $150 million annually.
- It costs $1.86 million annually to prepare written translations for food stamp recipients nationwide. The cost for oral translations skyrocket to $21 million nationally per year.
- Forcing physicians to provide multilingual outpatient services would cost $180.8 million annually. In addition, inpatient services in multiple languages would cost hospitals $78.2 million, while the bill for multilingual emergency room services would tally $8.6 million, pushing the health care total to $267.6 million.
- The cost of an interpreter can exceed the reimbursement of a Medicare or Medicaid visit by 13 times - costing doctors more than $500 per translator (based on figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Medicare reimburses doctors roughly $40, which is 80 percent of the average national payment rate of $50 and approximately $35 for Medicaid patients).
- More than $100 million have been spent in the last 30 years to assess the value of bilingual education. Two startling conclusions made in the study include: (1) There is no evidence that a program of native language instruction has greater benefits than any other type of education program, and (2) Teaching children to read in English first, instead of in their native tongue, has no negative consequences. The enormous amount of research is on top of the $665 million a year the federal government spends on bilingual programs.
H.R. 123, English Language Empowerment Act, aka Bill Emerson English Language Empowerment Act of 1996, is a bill to declare English the official language of the United States. It passed the House August 1, 1996.
It stated that the U.S. is comprised of and benefits from individuals and groups from diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. A common thread of our historical language is needed in order for immigrants to assimilate and be empowered with opportunities.
It also stated, "Any monetary savings derived from the enactment of this title should be used for the teaching of the English language to non-English speaking immigrants."
The bill never became law.
The bill was re-introduced by Steve King as the English Unity Act of 2007 on Feb 12, 2007. It gained 153 cosponsors yet the bill died again the same year it was introduced.
"A common language is the most powerful unifying force known throughout history. We need to encourage assimilation of all legal immigrants in each generation. A nation divided by language cannot pull together as effectively as a people." ...
“Multilingualism is fine, but not as a function of government, because it confuses us, and it divides us, and it pits us against each other.” Source
"This legislation will provide much-needed commonality among United States citizens, regardless of heritage. As a nation built by immigrants, it is important that we share one vision and one official language."
Reform Immigration for America opposes the bill.
To support this bill, send your rep an e-mail letter. Click here.
Sources consulted: U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Report to Congress: Assessment of the Total Benefits and Costs of Implementing Executive Order No. 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, March 14, 2002
American Medical Association, Letter to the U.S. Office of Management & Budget, December 21, 2001, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Public Information Office, 2002
National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, 1997