GOP lawmaker renews push to make English the ‘official language of the United States’
Rep. Bob Good this week rolled out legislation that would make English the official language of the United States, reviving an idea that GOP lawmakers have proposed in past sessions of Congress in an effort to unify the U.S. population around a common language.
Good, R-Va., introduced the English Language Unity Act, which would “declare English as the official language of the United States.” It would also require all federal government functions to be conducted in English, and require immigrants to comprehend their responsibilities as citizens in English before they become naturalized Americans.
Federal officials would also be directed to encourage the use of English as way of unifying the nation, and would have an “affirmative obligation to preserve and enhance the role of English” as the official language of the U.S. government.
The bill finds that while the diverse background of America’s citizens is a benefit to the nation, the “common thread binding individuals of differing backgrounds has been the English language.”
“We live in one of very few countries that does not have an official language,” Good told Fox News Digital. “In the melting pot of America, our common English language promotes unity and fosters cultural integration. The English Language Unity Act is a common-sense measure that will help make America a stronger nation and cut our total federal spending.”
The bill comes as the U.S. government has increasingly used several languages to communicate information to U.S. citizens and residents. The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, offers press releases in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, Korean, Russian, Haitian, Portuguese and two variations of Chinese.
The federal website Digital.Gov says federal agencies are “required to provide meaningful access to government information to people with limited English proficiency,” and that agencies needed to assess what information should be in languages other than English depending on their audience.
That site notes that according to the 2010 Census, 25 million people in the country speak something other than English at home and speak English “less than very well.” It said 16.5 million of those people are Hispanics, and makes a counter-argument to Good’s bill by saying adding more languages to federal sites is a better approach.
“Many people who are eligible for federal services can’t effectively use those services because they aren’t yet proficient in English,” the Digital.Gov site states. “Providing individuals who aren’t yet proficient in English with easy-to-find government information online encourages their participation in and inclusion into American society.”
In 2011, under the Obama administration, the Justice Department reaffirmed a Clinton-era executive order that directed federal agencies to deliver information to people with limited English proficiency. The DOJ memo several agencies were still falling short in providing non-English information on their websites and required agencies to set up working groups to address that issue.
Good’s bill was proposed in past Congresses by Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Steve King, R-Iowa, and Bob Barr, R-Ga. A congressional aide said this week that there is no indication so far of whether House GOP leaders will take up the legislation in committee or whether it might be able to move to the House floor.