Executive Director of the English language advocacy group ProEnglish Stephen Guschov says his organization has “had five meetings at the White House in recent weeks and months” urging President Donald Trump to repeal Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 13166, which sought to accommodate “persons with limited English proficiency.”
Signed by Clinton in the final days of his administration, the executive order requires recipients of federal funding — including public hospitals and schools — to provide costly foreign language translation services.
“They must provide interpreters or translators for any non-English people and they must pay for it themselves,” Guschov told Breitbart News Deputy Political Editor Amanda House on Breitbart News Daily. “Well, obviously, that cost is being passed on to taxpayers, to U.S. citizens.”
“A study by the Office of Management and Budget during the first term of the Bush administration estimated these additional translation costs amounted to over $2 billion a year for the taxpayer,” Guschov wrote in an opinion piece published by the Washington Times. “This OMB study is a dozen years old now, and the costs have obviously skyrocketed.”
A 2015 study conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies found that there are now nearly 65 million U.S. residents who speak a foreign language at home, creating immense pressure on local hospitals, schools, and other public services to provide translation services.
In California alone, the non-English-speaking population is approaching 50 percent, while 35 percent of Texas’s residents and 34 percent of New Mexico’s speak a foreign language at home.
Of the nearly 65 million foreign-speaking U.S. residents, Migration Policy Institute research shows that more than 25 million were “limited” in English proficiency – a number equal to almost half of the entire U.S. immigrant population. The number of foreign nationals lacking English proficiency has more than doubled since the 1980s, according to this research.
“We’ve actually had five meetings at the White House in recent weeks and months with different aides to President Trump and Vice President Pence, and we have really urged them to sign a new executive order repealing Clinton’s executive order,” Guschov told House.
Guschov also stressed his organization’s existential goal: having English declared America’s official language. ProEnglish is urging the GOP-controlled Congress to pass the English Language Unity Act – the latest iteration of a series of bills introduced periodically since the late 1990s. In the past, these bills attracted significant conservative support, including that of then-Congressman Mike Pence. This Congress’s version was introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and currently has more than 60 Republican co-sponsors.
Guschov emphasized the assimilative benefits to immigrants of passing such a bill. “If an immigrant comes to this nation and they are immersed in English and proficient in English and English is the official language of all governmental operations here, then actually that’s something that is going to be helpful for immigrants,” he told House.
“A lot of our opponents say, ‘Oh, you are not compassionate at all. You’re anti-immigrant.’ No, just the opposite. We are very compassionate. Because if someone must learn English, must become proficient in it, then they are going to prosper in this nation.”
They’re going to have better job opportunities, better professional opportunities, they are going to be able to make more money, be able to provide better for their family. So what we are doing, by advocating for official English is something very compassionate for all immigrants coming to this nation.
“We don’t want to see America become a new Tower of Babel,” Guschov pressed. “And what we are proposing … is nothing that is rare or outlandish or not done around the world.”
Right now about 85 percent of member nations of the United Nations have an official language. And there are approximately 53 countries around the world right now that are United Nations member nations that have English as an official language. But the United States doesn’t. It’s crazy.
Guschov emphasized that this push to make English the official language in the U.S. is for government operations only. “People are free to speak whatever language they want in their house, in their church, in their place of faith, in their community center, wherever they want. Knock yourself out in that regard,” he said.
“We are not saying people should not be able to speak their own language privately or that they would be prohibited from celebrating their ethnicity. Nothing at all like that.”
Guschov says it is legal immigrants who understand this issue the most. “They’re the ones that say to us here at ProEnglish all the time: ‘Steve, we get it … If you are coming to America, coming here legally, it’s a no-brainer that you have to learn English.'”
President Trump has voiced his support for speaking English in America on several occasions.
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