Plan to make English Arizona's official language irks HispanicThe Associated Press
Jan. 13, 2005
PHOENIX - A plan by some lawmakers to make English the official language of Arizona is angering Hispanics, who make up one-quarter of the state's 5 million residents.
The House measure (HCR 2030) would allow voters to require that most government business be conducted in English.
The state, cities and counties could not print documents such as water bills in Spanish or any other foreign language.
If approved by the Legislature, the measure would be on the 2006 ballot.
"It's insulting to Hispanics and Native Americans and anyone else who speak a different language," said Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix.
The proposal offered by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is co-sponsored by five other legislators.
"We're an English-only nation and our records should reflect that," Pearce said. "If you come to America, you should speak English."
Arizona voters approved the English-only law in 1988, but the state Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional because it violated free speech and equal-protection rights.
Pearce said his proposal is different from the 1988 referendum because it doesn't keep anyone from speaking or learning other languages.
It would not apply to election ballots and documents necessary for international trade, tourism and to protect the public's health and safety.
The measure does call for all government functions to be done in English, including public meetings and publications.
"I enjoy speaking Spanish, but the primary language throughout the world is English," said state Sen. Robert Blendu, R-Litchfield Park. "The more we get our immigrants used to using English, the more they will be able to compete in the worldwide economy."