For months, the political landscape in Washington, DC has been shaped by the divisive issue known as the debt crisis. Words like “taxes,” “spending,” “cuts,” and “ceiling” have been parsed and packaged in so many ways partisan lines have all but disintegrated.
One day after the debt ceiling compromise was reached in Congress, the English Language Unity Act of 2011 (H.R. 997) received its 100th cosponsor. H.R. 997 would make English the official language of the United States.
The burdensome costs associated with printing, verbal, written, and website translation services, and bureaucratic know-how fall squarely on American taxpayers. Schools, libraries, hospitals, unemployment offices, fire and police departments, public health clinics, and countless private agencies—many of which receive federal funds—are struggling to keep their doors open because they are forced to provide multilingual services in any foreign language requested or else risk a “discrimination” lawsuit from the Department of Justice. Even the 31 states with official English laws of their own still cannot escape this hefty fiscal burden. Federal unfunded mandates which require local jurisdictions to provide multilingual voter ballots for federal elections make it all but impossible for states to enforce their official English policies and rein in their unnecessary and wasteful spending.
Although the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has refused to provide the amount of taxpayer dollars that fund multilingual services each year, we do have some idea of the annual price tag. In 2009, the Fraser Institute released a study that revealed that Canada, a country with roughly one-tenth the population of the United States, spent between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion in 2006 to provide taxpayer-funded government services in French as well as English, just two languages. In the U.S., over 300 languages are spoken, so we can extrapolate our cost to be ten times Canada’s. Subsidizing immigrants and non-English-speaking Americans who avoid learning English is not the responsibility of American taxpayers.
If Congress can make good on its pledge to be more fiscally responsible, H.R. 997 is a bill worth advancing because it will save billions of taxpayer dollars every year. Translations and interpreters for people applying for taxpayer-funded federal assistance would no longer be provided at taxpayers’ expense. For example, if a patient covered by Medicaid needed an interpreter for an office visit, under an official English law, it would then be up to the patient, the hospital, medical facility, or physician involved to decide how the service would be covered.
With the ever-changing language demographics of the U.S., the fate of America’s fiscal and cultural health depends on H.R. 997 becoming law.
TAKE ACTION: Has your Congressman signed on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 997? Check the list.
If you don’t see his name, tell your Congressman to cosponsor H.R. 997 making English the official language as soon as he gets back to Washington, D.C. after the August recess! You can call his district office in your area or attend a Town Hall meeting over the August recess and tell him in person to cosponsor H.R. 997. If you want to know in advance when your Congressman or Senator will be holding in-person meetings, sign up with ProEnglish we’ll send them to you for FREE!
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