Argument: Official English encourages immigrants to learn language and succeed

Issue Report: English as US official language


“Why official language?” English as our official language: “Learning to speak English empowers immigrants. By more than 2-1 immigrants themselves say the U.S. should expect new immigrants to learn English (1) and by a 9-1 margin Hispanic immigrants believe learning English is essential to succeed in the U.S.”

“Official English Will Encourage Immigrants to Learn English.” ProEnglish on “Government efforts to accommodate immigrants’ inability to speak English by operating in other languages remove important incentives for immigrants to learn English. This discourages their acquisition of English skills, limits them to low wage jobs and fosters a growing underclass, segregated and walled off into linguistic ghettos. A century ago such immigrant ghettos were marked by extreme poverty, 80-hour workweeks and child labor. As the industrial revolution matured, immigrants quickly learned that English skills were the key to entering the emerging “middle class.” This, coupled with mandatory public education and reduced levels of immigration, resulted in the successful assimilation of ethnic communities into American society.” [See extended argument on Opposing Views].

U.S. English, an advocate group for “Official English” summarizes their belief that “the passage of English as the official language will help to expand opportunities for immigrants to learn and speak English, the single greatest empowering tool that immigrants must have to succeed.”[1] “Why is official English necessary”: “Official English empowers immigrants. Immigrants will benefit from the elevation of English to official status. Instead of the mixed message government sends by making it possible to file tax returns, vote, become U.S. citizens and receive a host of other services in a variety of languages, immigrants will understand that they must know English to fully participate in the process of government. Providing multi-lingual services creates dependence on “linguistic welfare.” Life without English proficiency in the United States is a life of low-skilled, low-paying jobs. Studies of Census data show that an immigrant’s income rises about 30% as a result of learning English. Knowledge of English leads to the realization of the American dream of increased economic opportunity and the ability to become a more productive member of society, which benefits everyone.