Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, October 14, 2016

Origins of Non-English Government Services

The idea that federal grant recipients must provide services to “limited English proficiency persons” in their native languages other than English originated exactly 16 years ago when Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13166 in the waning days of his administration. Federal agencies have continued to enforce that executive order by regulation, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that Clinton’s order was not justified by any law passed by Congress.

Don’t assume, however, that the only other language they reference is Spanish. The vast wave of over 100,000 illegal immigrants who came here from Central America in the last three years includes tens of thousands of people who do not speak or understand either English or Spanish.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that “ancient Mayan languages are creating problems” because there are so few qualified interpreters. With so many new arrivals from Guatemala and Honduras, the primitive languages spoken in those countries are now more common than French in U.S. immigration courts. Don’t assume that the Obama administration is merely responding to a genuine need for services by recent immigrants who have not yet learned English. In the name of multiculturalism, the administration is actively discouraging the transition to English by immigrants and their children.

The $9.2 billion federal Head Start program has published “Multicultural Principles for Children Ages Birth to Five” which says immigrant children have a right to be taught in their native languages. A 32-page policy statement from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services promotes Dual Language Learning and even warns immigrant families not to “prioritize the learning of English” because “children may inadvertently lose their home language.”

We should have a national policy requiring immigrants and their children to become proficient in English. Even if they “lose their home language,” that’s a small price to pay for the far greater benefit of English proficiency in this country, and the importance of a common language for all Americans.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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