Monday, February 08, 2016

Maryland counties seek to make English official language

Alison Knezevich /
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Frederick - Jose Soto doesn't pay attention to politics in Frederick County. He's new to town and spends much of his time working at an apple-processing plant in Pennsylvania. But he heard something a few weeks ago about the county making English its official language.

"I think it's a little racist," Soto said as he stopped by a Latino grocery store in Frederick before heading to work one afternoon last week. The 32-year-old was born in Guatemala and emigrated to Los Angeles as a child.

Last month, the county became the first in Maryland to declare English its official language, though supporters of the measure acknowledge the move was largely symbolic because county business is done in English now. Anne Arundel and Queen Anne's counties are considering similar laws as well — part of a nationwide movement that supporters tout as a way to help immigrants assimilate.


"It's a very pro-immigrant, immigrant-friendly measure," said Suzanne Bibby, director of government relations for ProEngish. "English is the language of success here."

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