Gingrich: English should be national language
Cox News Service, Denver Post
By Eunice Moscoso
Washington - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that American
civilization will "decay" unless the government declares English the nation's
official language and works aggressively to help immigrants learn English.
"Immigrant parents want their children to compete in the core American economic
system and to have the highest possible income. That inherently requires
mastering English," Gingrich said. "Those people who would trap immigrants into
linguistic ghettos ... are in fact denying them the opportunity to pursue
Gingrich, a Republican who might run for president, spoke at a news conference
sponsored by ProEnglish, an organization pushing for English as the nation's
Gingrich said that bilingual education in the United States, which puts
non-English speakers in separate classes, has been "stunningly destructive" and
that the money spent on bilingual education should be transferred to
English-immersion programs for students.
He also said that the federal government should create English-immersion centers
for adults, offer vouchers to help immigrants take English classes online or buy
English-learning products, and stop printing voting ballots in other languages.
"We should have a principle that government documents are in English," Gingrich
Gingrich also said that he has nothing against other cultures and welcomes
Spanish-language television stations and Vietnamese newspapers, but that English
must be a unifying force in the country.
Advocates oppose stance
Immigrant advocates and civil-rights groups say that making English the nation's
official language would infringe on people's right to free speech, would
encourage discrimination against immigrants, and could make it difficult for
people with limited or no English to receive basic public services such as
John Trasvina, president and general counsel of the Mexican-American Legal
Defense and Educational Fund, said that a national official English law is
unnecessary and would "embolden those who want to discriminate against people
with an accent and people who don't speak English."
"Latinos and immigrants do not need a law to tell them that English is the
language to get ahead in the United States," he said. "A conservative like Newt
Gingrich ought to know that you don't pass a law, you provide English classes."
Several counties, cities and towns across the United States have passed
ordinances declaring English their official language as part of efforts to crack
down on illegal immigration, including Cherokee County, Ga., and Farmers Branch,
In addition to cities and towns, 28 states have laws that make English their
official language, including Arizona, where voters approved a proposition in
November to make English the state's official language.