ProEnglish went to Capitol Hill and our Government Relations Director Dan Carter interviewed Congressman John Fleming (LA-04) on the proposed bill to make English the official language of the federal government (H.R. 997).
Read the transcript below:
Carter: Let me say thank you to Congressman Fleming for signing on to H.R. 997—The English Language Unity Act of 2015.
Congressman Fleming: Happy to do it.
Carter: Well we have 78 signers and you’re an integral part of that. Would you just share with us what led you to sign on as a cosponsor?
Congressman Fleming: As a descendant of immigrants, like we all are frankly, I believe what is truly American is the assimilation of our pluralistic society into a culture that is common among all of us—not necessarily singular but common. And the root of any culture is its language. English is our common language, and in fact, the world uses English as a benchmark language for commerce. So if someone comes to the United States, if they are going to be successful, they are going to have to learn our language in order to be able to get a good education, in order to have a good job.
But also, it’s what makes us a single People. Even though we are from varied backgrounds and descents, and may have different and varying ideas about Democracy, it’s English that pulls us all together.
Carter: I think the title of the bill—The English Language Unity Act—is what you are stressing. And we certainly appreciate your doing that.
Congressman Fleming: It’s so important. And I’ll also say parenthetically that there are other countries that do not have assimilation in their cultures, and it’s been a huge disaster. You’re finding communities and countries within a country with different customs, different languages, and even different laws. It’s a huge disaster. So we don’t want that here in the United States. Whoever comes to the United States from foreign countries, if they come here legally, then they should assimilate into our culture and they should be able to become successful within our culture. And it begins with a common language.
Carter: Absolutely. We certainly appreciate what you’ve done when you signed on back in July of last year. We really appreciate your impact, your core of people who support you, and the folks back in your district and beyond. I’m not in your district. But when I visit with Congressmen and Senators, they are representing all of us. The 435 members represent us all.
What are your thoughts on the success of this bill moving forward? We have 78 total sponsors.
Congressman Fleming: I think that it is growing momentum, but probably this President won’t take it up and won’t sign it. But I think that with the next President who will be sworn into office by this time next year, we may well be able to get it passed by then and signed into law.
Carter: We certainly hope so. We know that with the conversation taking place [on Capitol Hill], with floor remarks, and with Congressmen such as yourself signing on—it certainly makes a difference. Thank you very much, Congressman.
Congressman Fleming: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.