ProEnglish Asks to Testify on Puerto Rico’s

ProEnglish Asks to Testify on Puerto Rico’s Status Referendum

October 28, 2011

CONTACT: Suzanne Bibby, or (703) 816-8821



ARLINGTON, Va.—ProEnglish, the United States’ leading advocate of making English the official language at all levels of government, has sent a letter to Speaker of the House Jennifer González Colón requesting the opportunity to testify before Puerto Rico’s legislative committees currently considering a measure calling for a 2012 referendum on whether or not Puerto Rico should retain its status as a self-governing U.S. Commonwealth, become independent, or become the 51st U.S. State.

ProEnglish urges the legislature to amend the legislation to clarify that should the Puerto Rican people vote in favor of statehood, Puerto Rico will have to adopt English as its sole official language of day-to-day government operations including all laws, official records, and government proceedings. In addition English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes would have to be mandatory in Puerto Rican public schools and the schools would have to operate exclusively in English after a transitional period.

“The Puerto Rican government should not wait until the referendum is over to address the issue of language,” said ProEnglish Director of Government Relations Suzanne Bibby. “The legislature has to be honest and clear with the Puerto Rican people from the very beginning about what Statehood will mean.”

No U.S. state government operates in a language other than English on a day-to-day basis,” said Bibby. “We know from the enormous costs and frequent conflicts that it imposes on countries like Canada, that official bilingualism would add to our budget deficit and be extremely divisive. The U.S. Congress is not likely to admit a new state without requiring it to operate in the same language as all other fifty states,” she added.

“The legislature owes it to the Puerto Rican people to address the language issue now so that voters who are inclined to vote for statehood understand that it also means making English the sole official language of Puerto Rico’s government,” said Bibby. “Public opinion polls consistently show the American people overwhelmingly favor making English the official language of the U.S.    Congress knows this and is not likely to make an exception for Puerto Rico,” she concluded.