English as Official Language
You must answer an important question. Others will judge Arizona for years to come based on your answer.
That important question is: Do Arizonans still believe in the principles on which this country was founded? The United States was founded on the principle that by granting people freedom and opportunity, they will work hard to create a better life for themselves and their families.
I know Arizonans still value this principle and that is why they will see the following flaws in Proposition 103:
Arizonans should learn English. Learning English will help them achieve the American dream. However, at this same election, the legislature hypocritically also asks you to vote on another measure (Proposition 300), which restricts the ability of adults to take classes to learn English. We must oppose efforts to make English the official language when we refuse to help people learn the language.
The Arizona Supreme Court already spoke to this issue in 1998 when it ruled a similar measure unconstitutional.
• The Supreme Court said that declaring English as the state's official language deprives people of their fundamental First Amendment rights to access government and deprives government officials of their rights to free speech.
No one is trying to change the language in Arizona or the United States. English will remain the language spoken here regardless of whether Proposition 103 passes. Proposition 103 only serves to divide.
The answer to my question is that we do still believe in the core principles of opportunity and freedom. Vote NO on Proposition 103.
Fellow Arizonans: Proposition 103, which would make English Arizona's "official" language is unnecessary. When was English declared not to be the official language of Arizona?
As far as we know, all State, County, City or town proceedings and business are conducted in English. The Courts conduct their business in English. Sometimes translators are used in court, but all official court proceedings and records are in English. Our birth, marriage, and death certificates are in English. Even our dreaded tax transactions are in English. This proposal does absolutely nothing to the status quo and we urge you to vote "NO" on this measure.
Proposition 103 supporters posit that not having a law that makes English the "official" language discourages people, particularly immigrants, from learning English. The fact is that English classes in adult education programs are so full that they have to turn people away.
Since there is not a rational basis to make English Arizona's "official" language, we are left to conclude that Proposition 103 is directed at Spanish speakers. Proposition 103 is a measure that is steeped in hate. State Representative Russell Pearce, referring to a teenage co-worker, gives a clue as to the real foundation of Proposition 103, when he said: "He couldn't speak English, so me and the other workers made fun of him" (Arizona Republic, February 11, 2005).
Representative Pearce and other legislators who support Proposition 103 have continuously blocked attempts to increase funding for English classes through Adult Basic Education, giving the lie to their stated concern for people learning English.
Hate for a language or a people is not a basis for amending Arizona's Constitution.
RESPECT ARIZONA'S HISTORIC VALUES - VOTE NO ON "ENGLISH ONLY"
This legislative referral proposes to protect the "rights" of persons who use English without explaining the nature of those rights. It would appear that these are nothing more than the rights to be insular, myopic, unsophisticated, uncultured and undereducated. No vested rights are lost as we proclaim on the State Seal our Latin motto of Ditat Deus; may God continue to enrich us as we protect diversity. Rural Arizona has a deep history with other languages, from the Spanish spoken along the border to the Native Americans throughout the State to the small pockets of Basques whose ancestors first came here as shepherds. Faith-based organizations and other non-profit groups have a long tradition of overseas service and acculturation. As we embrace these returning missionaries and volunteers, with their enhanced language skills and respect for others, we should also support those public employees who use their bilingual skills to better serve all Arizona residents.
Some people say that Arizona should follow a business model, and business provides us with a great example here. Arizona companies routinely market their products in a variety of languages to an increasingly diverse population. No law requires (or prevents) a company from reaching out to language minorities - it is simply good business. So it should be with government, to enable non-English speakers to ask all the questions needed, and obtain all the material helpful, towards meeting their obligations as residents: the payment of taxes; the conservation of our natural resources; and the participation in all aspects of civic life. Respect Arizona, and vote no.
We, the members of the Coalition for Latino Political Action hereby ask the voters of Arizona to vote no on Proposition 103, which would make English Arizona's "official language."
We recognize that English is already the official language of our state and country and this proposition will do nothing to change any language policies, however, we also know that in the past elected and appointed officials in Arizona have taken enforcement of an action beyond its original intent and the passage of this proposition may be misinterpreted in that same fashion.
Immigrants want to learn English and know that learning it would allow them to prosper in this great country. Let's instead work on increasing the infrastructure to allowing this to happen by appropriating more funding in schools for children to learn English and increasing the number of adult English classes.
It wasn't too long ago that we saw wisdom in enacting policies and practices to make it easier for recent immigrants to assimilate into American life. Those who have seen their immigrant parents or grandparents struggle to learn English understand that allowing them to communicate and interact with their government in their native language is not only humane, it is more efficient.
Perhaps if third, fourth and fifth generation Americans could go back in time and experience the difficulty their grandparents and great grand parents had as they tried to learn the language of their new homeland, we would not be considering such a measure.
In proposing this change in Arizona's constitution, the legislature attempted to mitigate this unwise measure by stating that the government should encourage greater opportunities for individuals to learn the English language, something on which we can all agree. However, unless and until we adequately fund classes for English language learners, this recommendation is hollow at best.
Studies of recent census data by the Urban Institute and the Migration Policy Institute have found that Arizona has one of the largest and fastest-growing populations of English-language learners of any state in the country. Approximately 18 percent of US residents speak a language other than English at home, and the numbers are greater in Arizona. If you genuinely wish to help immigrants learn English and assimilate more quickly into American life, this measure is not the answer. In fact, it will further marginalize and isolate immigrants and divide us from one another.
The Arizona Advocacy Network, a non-profit community organization dedicated to good government, asks that you vote NO on Proposition 103.