WASHINGTON – Several Republican House members are hoping to make English the official language of the United States.
They’ve introduced legislation that would require all federal government business to be conducted in English. If passed, it would remove translators from government offices and have everything from documents to election ballots only be printed in English.
Supporters say it would help integrate immigrants into the American culture while saving taxpayers money.
“This would save the federal government billions in translation costs,” said Sam Pimm, the executive director of Pro English, a group behind the push. “It’s not discriminatory. We’re trying to help people achieve the American dream.”
This is not the first time the legislation has been proposed. Pimm said one of the biggest supporters in the past was then-Rep. Mike Pence. Pimm believes the legislation has its best chance to pass now because of the GOP-controlled Congress and Pence serving as vice president.
“We have currently 32 states that have already adopted official English as a law and we are working in several other states,” Pimm said.
The proposal comes at a time when immigration issues are front and center. Mike Capps, of the Migration Policy Institute, believes the likelihood of such legislation becoming law is small.
“The impact is mostly symbolic,” Capps said. He believes a bill such as this wouldn’t have a huge impact on younger and second-generation immigrants because many already speak English.
Capps said the impact would be felt by older immigrants who may have a tougher time learning the new language.
“One of the biggest issues is around public benefits,” Capps said. ”It’s the ability for older people to apply for health insurance coverage or supplemental income that is a complicated procedure, typically, where they would want information in their own language.”
Vice President Pence’s office did not respond to our calls to find out if he still supports the proposal or if the administration plans on making it a priority.