A Saturday morning debate between Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) and his Democratic challenger, Amanda Renteria, was hosted in Spanish, the Fresno Bee reports.
The debate, hosted by Univision Fresno at Fresno State in Bakersfield, Calif., the Fresno Bee wrote, was “conducted entirely in Spanish.”
“It was geared toward Latino voters and focused on topics including immigration, water, agriculture and the economy,” according to reporter Andrea Castillo.
Univision Fresno’s David Ibarro hosted the debate, in which both candidates abdicated English to speak only Spanish.
“Valadao’s parents, who were Portuguese immigrants, taught him their native language before he learned English,” Castillo wrote. “He picked up Spanish during and after high school, mainly by speaking to workers on his family’s ranch. Renteria, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, said she grew up speaking both Spanish and English.”
Castillo added that they both “stumbled through the debate at times,” but Renteria had “better fluency overall” as Valadao “often mixed in English or Portuguese words.”
Valadao is one of the few Republicans in the House who has thrown his weight behind a comprehensive immigration reform plan that has been offered by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a plan similar to the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill.
The news of this debate being conducted entirely in Spanish comes as a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has found that nearly 62 million people–an all time high–in the United States right now speak a language other than English at home. The report found that among the seven foreign languages other than English that more than a million people speak predominantly inside their homes, Spanish being the most prominent at 38.4 million.
CIS’s research director Steven Camarota, the co-author of the report, said that this revelation that about one in five people don’t speak English at home in the U.S. is because the nation’s current immigration system is failing to properly assimilate people from foreign countries, and those assimilation problems are carrying over into future generations.