March 25, 2011
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Presented by ProEnglish
By Jayne Cannava, Executive Director
The recently-released recommendations from the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status rightly recognizes that, if the U.S. commonwealth is ever admitted as the 51st state, Congress has ultimate authority over admission of states and that English must play a central role in the daily life of the island.
Currently the commonwealth is predominantly Spanish-speaking. If and when the issue of Puerto Rico goes before Congress and its current political status should change, ProEnglish will vigorously lobby to give these task force recommendations some substance so that Puerto Ricans realize that there would be strict English requirements as a condition for admission to statehood. At a minimum, a large majority of Puerto Rico residents— who are U.S. citizens— must become fluent in English for statehood to be even considered. In this context, Congress must mandate that any new state must adopt English as its official language of government, which would also include the courts and schools.
English is our common tongue that unites all Americans. Polls continue to underscore that 9 out of 10 of Americans want English to be the official language of government operations and 31 states have adopted laws to that effect. This is why it is gratifying and important that the president’s task force specifically recognizes the central role of English if statehood is ever considered by the Congress.