Politics & Government
12:44 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

At 'English-only' hearing, Rep. Conyers delivers his statement in Spanish

It was a controversial hearing to begin with. Yesterday, a House subcommittee was looking into a bill that would make English the official language of the United States and require that government functions like naturalization ceremonies be conducted in English.

Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan was not a fan, so he decided to deliver his opening statement in Spanish.

First he thanked the chairman, then he proceeded to assail the measure.

"Now a days, immigrants from Asia or Latin America are demonized and discriminated against," he said in broken Spanish. "One day, our nation will look back on this period with shame and regret."

As the Blaze reports, Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona, shot back immediately saying his wife would understand the statement.

"I would ask the gentleman in the interest of fairness here...would you repeat that in Yiddish and Vietnamese and French, as well," Franks said. "Nothing would make the point better if we conducted all of our debates in different languages, and I suppose that makes the case for this bill better than anything else."

Univision News points out the actual meat of the issue. They report:

"[Rep. Jerrold Nadler, of New York,] and other Democrats suggested that the bill could prevent non-English speakers from casting ballots. But Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) the sponsor of the law, denied that was the case, saying that it does not target language in the Voting Rights Act. In the past, King and his fellow Republicans have tried to erase language in the Voting Rights Act that required bilingual ballots in certain jurisdictions."

Rosalie Pedalino Porter, the chairman of an advocacy organization in favor of making English the official language, testified that the legislation has two goals: Help immigrants assimilate, and streamline government expenses by doing away with printing material in more than one language.

Rene Garcia, a Florida state senator, said he agreed that immigrants need to assimilate, but, he said, this legislation creates an exclusionary environment that will lead to fewer immigrants becoming American citizens.

Conyers, however, pointed out the thing that really matters: In Spanish, he said that lawmakers were again wasting time on a piece of legislation that has very little chance of becoming law.

-Eyder Peralta, NPR.org