The United States is a nation of immigrants, with residents that speak a number of different languages and have ties to a number of different cultures. Presently, the United States does not have an official language, although according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 92 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 5 speaks English.
Legislation making English the official language would have serious unintended repercussions. For example, it would eliminate bilingual education services, prohibit the use of a translator in court, ban the use of another language by employees of the federal government, and bar the printing of any government documents in other languages. Paradoxically, making English the official language would probably result in less people speaking English because non-English speakers would no longer receive information on English classes. Such a policy would also pose a public safety issue by prohibiting a federal law enforcement agent from using a language other than English to gather information about a crime and question potential suspects or victims.
While I do believe all people residing in this country should learn English, making it the "official language" is not the way to go. That is why I would vote to make English the national and unifying language of the United States. Making English the "national and unifying" language rather than the "official" language avoids the unintended consequences discussed above. Instead of focusing our energies on making English the official language of the United States, we should do everything possible to ensure that our new citizens and residents have the opportunity to achieve English proficiency so they are able to fully participate in our society.
This world without English would be like a car without a motor.
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