ProEnglish: An official language to unite a nation
In over 50 countries around the world, English is at least one of the counties official languages. It had been recognized as the major language of commerce and industry. Yet here in America, this is not the case. Despite the widespread use of English throughout the world and America’s influence abroad, the United States has no official language. One conservative group, however, is attempting to change that.
ProEnglish was founded in 1994 with the simple idea of making English the official language of the United States Government. Doing this would cut down the cost of unnecessary translation services, language services, and other language related undertakings our government is currently involved in.
“We believe this will help cut down on unnecessary translation costs, but also that it will send an important message that this is the language immigrants are expected to learn and assimilate to in order to succeed in America,” said Robert Vandervoort, Executive Director of Pro-English.
While ProEnglish is a non-profit organization, they undertake a range of different responsibilities and stances. One thing which sets this organization apart from other is they ProEnglish provides pro-bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations facing language related litigation. These cases have ranged from private citizens to local and state governments.
A huge misconception held about ProEnglish, however, is that the organization is pushing English-only policies. “By pushing English, and making sure that immigrants who come here don’t fall into a linguistic enclave, where they only know their own language and cant communicate with all Americans, I feel that is more anti-immigrant,” says Vandervoort. “Its not helping them succeed and move into the American society. People pushing multilingualism and saying that is more accommodating than a common language are doing more to hold immigrants back.”
Another big issue ProEnglish has weighed in on is the issue of Puerto Rican Statehood. “We would support it if they made English their official language,” Vandervoort said. “Absent that we would support their continued commonwealth status.” According to Vandervoort, while some would claim that English is one of the official languages of Puerto Rico, its not the primary official language. Schools, and government are still conducted almost exclusively in Spanish, and over 80 percent of the citizens only speak Spanish.
Vandervoort wants to make sure that people understand that ProEnglish is not advocating eliminating other languages however. “We’re not talking about hiring bilingual workers, or speaking other languages in the home,” Vandervoort said. “We’re talking about government documents, ballots, the census, things like that.” According to a study by Common Sense Advisory, from 1990-2009 the US Government has spent $4.5Billion on language and translation services, with $2.1Billion being spent within the last 5 years alone.
ProEnglish boasts an extensive network despite a small staff. They have an email network of over 70,000 and an additional 30-40,000 which receive their newsletter. “Compared to groups like the NRA, lets say, we don’t have a lot of members,” Vandervoort said. The issue their organization supports however, is favored by over 75 percent of the population. “You don’t see any other issues with that kind of response,” Vandervoort said.
While the issue has wide support, there isn’t as much enthusiasm behind it as with other issues. Conservatives everywhere must continue to support and gather around this issue, however, and help end wasteful spending make English the official language of America.