English already official here
Oct. 10, 2006
Nostalgia can be sweet. But Arizona doesn't need to go backward.
So keep in mind that the state legislator who cited a rights-abusing 1950s
deportation scheme as a solution to today's illegal immigration problems is also
the moving force behind a ballot measure that asks Arizonans to make English the
That déjà vu you're feeling is entirely appropriate. Voters were asked the same
question in 1988. By a scant 50.5 percent, they approved an English-only
amendment. It remains in the Constitution, despite having been declared
unconstitutional in state and federal appeals courts.
Now Proposition 103, shoved through the Legislature and onto the ballot by Rep.
Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, brings this divisive issue back before voters.
This measure would repeal the English-only amendment that was the subject of a
decade of court battles and replace it with an amendment that is supposed to be
able to withstand a constitutional challenge.
We don't need this.
English has been this nation's official language since before Betsy Ross could
sew. Previous waves of immigrants did not unseat English, despite fears such as
those expressed by Benjamin Franklin in 1751 that Germans would never
Every immigrant knows the importance of learning English. They always have and
they always will. Every child of an immigrant knows that mastering English is
the key to a better life. English speakers who would like to hurry that learning
process along should get behind efforts to help students and their immigrant
parents learn the language.
What's more, the influence of English on mass culture around the world is
undeniable. In international business, it is as close to the universal language
as you can get in this ever shrinking world. Our national language is fit and
It doesn't need to be called "official." It is official.
Let's be honest: The current push for an official English amendment is part of a
backlash against illegal immigration. The anger and frustration over that
unsolved problem is legitimate. So are calls for Congress to do its job and
enact comprehensive reform.
But it would be a mistake for Arizona to pass another official-English
amendment. It would lead to years of costly litigation and give the state the
kind of backward image it has been trying to shed for decades.
The future is not behind us.
Arizonans should vote "no" on Proposition 103.