Contact: Phil Kent
March 13, 2012
Phone: (404) 226-3549
ARLINGTON, Va — “Two leading Tea Party groups are to be praised for writing to Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum that, if Puerto Rico is ever admitted as the 51st state, the Spanish-speaking island’s government must implement an official English-in-government policy and must prove it would not be a ‘financial burden’ on U.S. taxpayers,” says ProEnglish Executive Director Robert Vandervoort.
Romney and Santorum are visiting the island this week, and a referendum on the island’s political status will be held on Nov. 6. GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said in the past that he favors Puerto Rico’s government and schools operate in English if statehood is ever ratified by Congress. All four remaining Republican presidential candidates support making English the official language for government purposes.
The first part of the referendum asks voters if they want a change in status or prefer to remain a U.S. commonwealth. The second part asks Puerto Ricans to also choose from three options: statehood, independence or a sovereign free association. Both Tea Party groups reached out to ProEnglish for assistance in understanding Puerto Rico’s language laws and referendum issues.
“We appreciate the valid concerns of the Tea Party and wait to hear from the candidates,” Vandervoort says. “Reconciling language policies between Puerto Rico, which recognizes both English and Spanish as official languages, and the U.S. would raise a host of policy concerns.”
“The pro-statehood party plans to use a victory in the second round of balloting to send its chosen ‘senators’ and ‘representatives’ to Capitol Hill to force its wishes on Congress— hoping the resulting publicity and political pressure would get them seated. It is similar to the strategy that Tennessee used to become a state in 1796,” Vandervoort also warns.
“An attempt in early 2010 by U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., to stipulate that any new state mandate English as its official language of government operations was defeated on a 13-to-24 vote along partisan lines with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. But that was when the Democrats controlled the House. So let’s hope the congressional Republican leadership listens to not only this announcement from Tea Party leaders Ben Tessler and Cynthia Lucas, but also remember that polls reveal 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,” Vandervoort says.