Whenever I think of making people speak English and the state of Arizona, I remember good old Joey Vento, deceased owner of Geno’s. His passion against immigrants taking advantage of the good will of Americans and Arizona’s crazy law to stop anyone who remotely looks like a immigrant are two extremes of patriotism gone awry. Though Joey Vento has gone to the great Italian American Club in the sky, Arizona is back with more political nonsense.
Alejandrina Cabrera, a United States citizen, from San Luis, Arizona is Banned from Running for City Council Because of Poor English. She is appealing the ruling instigated by the mayor of the town who does have a history of discord with the emerging politician. She has been found grossly under proficient in her English skills and the mayor believes she could not serve her 87% Hispanic electorate with due diligence if elected. She of course believes differently and believes the system is discriminating against her.
Should someone be banned from elected office because they do not speak English? According to a 2006 law, English is the official language of Arizona and a much older law says that not understanding the language is reason to deny office. It should be settled. Alejandrina Cabrera should go back to her Yuma high school, a bi-lingual school, and gain control of the official language, thus making her capable of performing her council duties.
Then why does it feel so wrong?
How can we deny a United States citizen access from being on the ballot because of language deficiencies? No one wants to go down the road that this is just flat out racism, but being Hispanic in Arizona seems to be a huge handicap when it comes to the law. This is an attack against the woman’s intelligence, based on her lack of English skills, by the city and state, which both refuse to change their policies as the electorate and culture changes.
Government should reflect the people. If Spanish is the language of the town and her ward, then it is with good faith that city council should take into account the changing demographics to better serve its people. If they do not, then it plain racism and using a language proficiency law from the early 1900s is an insidious way to keep Hispanic American citizens, who speak Spanish, from taking part in our democracy.
If it has teeth like a rat, it probably is going to bite us or spread disease.
The attack against Hispanic representation is happening in Texas with its redistricting. Though the population of Hispanics has boomed in the lone star state, the new state redistricting map has not gained any more political power for the group. This is just another example of overt discrimination using a system meant to keep incumbents and their power in charge.
The ability to speak English is not a sign of intelligence or stupidity. The ability to communicate in English is not a sign you are American. The sign you are an American is that you take your voting power and the great gift of democracy to change the country for the better. We should not deny political office because of developing English skills, because that is what Jim Crow tried to do to prevent Americans from voting with literacy tests.
The Hispanic population will continue to grow and change America unlike any non-English immigrant and citizen population before. To deny them their rights to participate in American democracy is unconstitutional and inherently racist. Sorry Joey, I do like Geno’s steaks though.
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