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Obama, Durbin: Vote no to declare English the national language. How would you vote?

| 31 Comments

The Senate continues debate over a comprehensive immigration bill. Thursday, the Senate adopted an amendment to the pending immigration legislation to make English the national language. There are many, many steps ahead before this would ever become law, but the measure will trigger a national conversation about cultural pluralism.



U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate


Vote Summary

Question: On the Amendment (Inhofe Amdt. No. 4064 )
Vote Number: 131 Vote Date: May 18, 2006, 05:00 PM

Required For Majority: 1/2 Vote Result: Amendment Agreed to
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 4064 to S. 2611 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 )
Statement of Purpose: To amend title 4 United States Code, to declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens.
Vote Counts: YEAs 63
NAYs 34
Not Voting 3







Home > Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote


U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate


Vote Summary

Question: On the Amendment (Inhofe Amdt. No. 4064 )
Vote Number: 131 Vote Date: May 18, 2006, 05:00 PM
Required For Majority: 1/2 Vote Result: Amendment Agreed to
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 4064 to S. 2611 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 )
Statement of Purpose: To amend title 4 United States Code, to declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens.
Vote Counts: YEAs 63
NAYs 34
Not Voting 3

The above from

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00131#state

31 Comments

Of course our country needs a single language to promote national unity -- I just don't know if that language should be Lakota or Iroquois.

The thing that made this "nation of immigrants" successful was assimilation. Everyone who came here and built this country into what it is today, learned English. It would have been impossible to move forward if everyone insisted on retaining, and exclusively speaking, their native tongue.

It seems to me, and has to seemed to me for a long time, that this obsession we have with dual language printing, is inherently discriminatory towards anyone immigrant whose native language is neither Spanish, nor English.

We did nothing to assist the Vietnamese boat people to be able to navigate their way around town in their own language. And frankly if we hadn't conducted a war in their country for ten years, they probably wouldn't have been here at all. The same can be said of any ethnic group from a non-English speaking country.

I don't understand why it is such a problem to establish a language which will be the standard used to conduct business, government, etc. Having ONE national language ensures clarity in our policies, ensures NO group is discriminated against because services aren't offered in their language, and offers immigrants the best chance for advancement in the jobs they choose to work because manuals are written in English, instructions are written in English,most upper level employees (supervisors) speak only English, etc. Allowing people to work without learning a national language, naturally disqualifies from job consideration, citizens who do not speak the language the people they must supervise choose to speak.

With a national language provision, English can be required to attain a job, relieving the translation burden on employers and alleviating discrimination suit fears. It would also make for a safer workplace if everyone communicates in the same language.

You may be able to force government to dual print instructions, but you can't force private industry to do it. And just think, if all of our government documents didn't have to be printed twice, we'd save lots of money and lots of trees.

Health care, energy, gas prices, terrorism, homelessness --- I guess a national language is right up there at the top of the priority list for getting things done this year in the U. S. Senate

you lost 5 vote from ALINOVICH HOUSE.

I think our national language should be reduced to a series of obscene hand gestures. This would allow us all to express how we all feel about our neighbors. English already is the official language of the US. People who want to succeed in America learn English. Those who want to spend their lives selling salsa tapes out of the back of their cars in Pilson and Little Village can insist on speaking Spanish only.
Those who resist English as the official language plainly conspire to keep immigrants in poverty.

With the lack of competency representing the people of the U.S. in the Senate these days and the lack of intelligence exhibited by the American public, perhaps pig latin should be the national language.

Yes the national language should be English.

My Irish mother's family came from a country where invaders came in and made the native people speak English instead of their native language. My Jewish father's family came from a country where they were not considered citizens, in part because their first language wasn't the same as that of the rest of the country, even though they were born there and their family had lived there for generations. They came here because in the U.S. they could be who they are and speak what they wished. They spoke English for their own reasons and not the government's. The senate yesterday voted to make this a very different country and I for one am sad to see it. Bravo to Sens. Obama and Durbin!

It's high time they (Congress) recognized the fact we need to promote English as the offical langauge. We surely don't need to be bilingual, like Canada. I am tired of seeing everything in two languages everywhere I go. Bilingual education has proved to be a failure in states like Calif and Arizona. Nothing but a waste of money.

Vote should be NO language is part of what made are country great.What language did your great grandfather an grandmother speak?Mine spoke broken english called names like Mik but learned English heck I still don't speak my own language right do you?

Six Willes children burned to death because the truck driver " DID NOT UNDERSTAND ENGLISH " It is our language LEARN IT!!!!!

In just about every other nation, there is an official language, and that language has been used to unify the people. While I am against measures to punish those who speak another language, I believe English should be the official language. Is it fair to non-Spanish speakers to have everything in English and Spanish? Is it fair for born citizens to feel like foreigners in their own country? Anyone who refuses to learn English does not want to be American, so why should they be awarded with special privileges?

English, is of course the language of our country. if we quit cateriing to foreigners and new immigrants, they would soon learn English.
Good point about the Willis children, and non-english speaking driver. want to bet how many more there are out driving our roads?
Re: Obama,thinks he is the golden boy and can do no wrong. Durbin is on his way out.
LOST OUR VOTES.
no matter the cause, Dems vote anti Bush.

You complain about too much catering to immigrants. Have you been an immigrant lately? Yeah, that's what I thought. The only people the US would be "catering" to if English is made the national language are nationalistic bigots like you. And you, and you, and you...

Meaningless gestures like 6000 National Guardsmen on the border and making English the official language are merely bones tossed to the public in hopes we are so stupid we will not notice many of our corrupt politicians have no intention of ever enforcing immigration laws.

Languages bind nations-keep it English

This is a diversionary tactic aimed at whipping up knee-jerk patriotic sentiment prior to an election. It accomplishes nothing except to make the US look even more xenophobic than we are already perceived by the rest of the world. Every civilized nation besides the US is bilingual. They have their own languages AND teach English. I think those who are in favor of declaring English as the official language here are doing so because they're too dim to learn another one.

We have always been a multi-lingual nation that never before needed to make a "law" that English is the "offical language" of the USA.

Think about it people. We've all learned enough English to function in our society (okay maybe not W).

So why do the extremists "need" this law?

Why?

I am disappointed in the Senators from Illinois.

I love this country. I love the English language.

Millions of Americans visit other nations and spend American dollars. I don't recall in my travels there was a button to press for English. I don't recall the stores in those countries hiring employees specifically to communicate with Americans. There was no guarantee there would be an employee versed in my native tongue of English. I had to wing it the best I could. Americans must realize we are Americans first and foremost. One nation (one national language) under GOD. Other nationalities have come to America and fell in love with the Land of freedom. They learned to speak English and were glad to do so.

Why are we catering to one specific nationality? We have a large number of Asian, Chinese, Irianian, and Polish communities. Do we press #3 for Asian, and #4 for Chinese?

When Americans are being turned down for jobs because they are not bilingual, there is a problem. While shopping, I have seen the employees speaking in their language and amazingly the prices at the registers come down to a much lower price. I believe that is called "sticking together."

I don't blame them!!! They should stick together and help each other. It's called survival.

When someone speaks out, you're label a "bigot" or small minded. On the contrary, if we keep making excuses, Spanish will be the national language. By the way how's your Spanish?

This country is comprised of people with single/double/triple language skills. I personally appreciate the concept of Engish as a "common and unifying language;" it does encourage language skills for assimulation and also language diversity. There's no doubt that English is a powerful global language by its ability to assimulate words from all cultures. And students of all countries strive to learn English, which is also the language of democracy and human rights.

My favorite language example is overhearing a science teacher instructing students at a Taiwan college. In the middle of a fluent discourse of Chinese instruction, he would interject English words for specific engineering or math concepts without hesitation.

Finally, did you know....the English word for that red salty/spicy tomato sauce for your French fries is a Chinese word...truly...."Ke-Tchup" or "Ca-Tsup"....that ain't Greek or Russian....Bon Appetite and Adios, Amigos!

This country is comprised of people with single/double/triple language skills. I personally appreciate the concept of Engish as a "common and unifying language;" it does encourage language skills for assimulation and also language diversity. There's no doubt that English is a powerful global language by its ability to assimulate words from all cultures. And students of all countries strive to learn English, which is also the language of democracy and human rights.

My favorite language example is overhearing a science teacher instructing students at a Taiwan college. In the middle of a fluent discourse of Chinese instruction, he would interject English words for specific engineering or math concepts without hesitation.

Finally, did you know....the English word for that red salty/spicy tomato sauce for your French fries is a Chinese word...truly...."Ke-Tchup" or "Ca-Tsup"....that ain't Greek or Russian....Bon Appetite and Adios, Amigos!

for those of you who don't like things written up in two or three languages in this country, i have a question for you. Do you mind it when you're in another nation that's not English speaking and you see the English signs?

promoting languages should be what the state senate does. By creating better resources and standards for language classes in our primary and secondary public schools, our nation could be stronger, not weaker. Instead, our government continues to pander to those uneducated and fearful of being anything more then isolationists and protectionists.

again, kudos to our state senators. Rationale leadership from our great state.

president bush said
yesterday that"this is a nation of immigrants" it most certainly is. what it
should not be is nation of illegal
immigrants

I'm doing some deep editing because I am very unhappy with Dick Durbin as a whole. In Chicago I visit many neighborhoods, Some Italian, some Polish, some Spanish...you get the idea. In Italian neighborhoods they speak English as a rule, sometimes you hear a bit of Italian. In Polish neighborhoods you hear a lot of Polish, but most everyone knows English. Why should any ONE culture/Language be considered equally accepted with English in this great melting pot. I'll stop now before getting on my soapbox. (My parents had to learn English too)

I wouldn't expect any other vote from the two senators from the People's Republic of Illinois. Partisan hacks all the way. In regards to the amendments, I agree with Myron. This stuff is meaningless window dressing to appease the populace. Nothing regarding these amendments or new laws on illegal immigration will ever be enforced. The two-party political hacks in Washington act upon popular
issues like illegal immigration to garner votes and shore up themselves and their political cronies in perpetual DC jobs. Newspapers and the media should be screaming the reality about the travesty that our government has become. Both corporations that we refer to as political parties are to blame. Adios!

While our nation and culture could use more unity and cohesion, jingoistic laws such as an English as the National (or Official) language laws, or laws that restrict bilingual education or the utlization of signs or government documents in multiple languages, are not the avenue to get there.

I believe that the proponents of English only laws are less concerned about the cohesiveness of American culture and are much more concerned about removing from the community and American society all cultural influences that they do not understand and that make them feel uncomfortable.

The strength of the American nation and American culture is its diversity, and the way in which that culture has developed is has not been by forcing all immigrants to immediately adopt upon their arrival the exact language, vocabulary, traditions and customs that were in the place on the date they arrived. Rather, the strength of our culture has been built upon the enrichment that new traditions, values, words, ideas, and creatively styles that immigrants have brought to our culture. To think of culture as something unchanging that a majority imposes on all newcomers is both short-sighted and racist.

With respect to the English language specifically, there is no question that it is in the benefit of both immigrants as well as the community as a whole that such immigrants learn English - this is something that polls indicate that large number of immigrants, even those that currently primarily speak Spanish or other languages, agree with. However, this does not mean that we should prohibit bilingual education or bilingual signs and government services.

Research has shown that the best way to improve English fluency (as well as overall academic achievement) of immigrants is through bilinugal Educational programs, and the best way to incorporate immigrants into the community is through programs that facilitate their participation in the community by utilizing their native languages.

There is a long history in the United States of periodic backlashes against immigrants, particularly at times when there is considerable economic and social anxiety. The fact is that immigration, even illegal immigration, is not the cause of the economic anxiety felt by an increasing number of Americans. In fact, immigration has been absolutley essential to the economic growth and the neighborhood rebirth that Chicago has been experience in the last 15-20 years, and immigration will continue to be essential to economic growth for the next 25-50 years, particularly as the American population gets older.

Immigrants and those who speak languages other than English are easy targets, but they are ineffectual targets. To those who wear their affection for an English-only culture on your sleave, stop searching for scapegoats, and begin contemplating the opportunities that a TRULY unified, diverse and yet cohesive, community could bring to this country.

Russ Hahn

Learn English, speak English. Learn the pledge, take the oath! How would that have sat with Americans if 500 thousand mexicans all used their voices and their clout to all speak the pledge at once in the streets instead of degrading the country, it's people and their flag while waving their mexican flags! All your march did was wake us up!

I came here as immigrant.I support that English should be the only official language. I know why Durbin and Obama are against it, it's just because they fear they may lose vote from minorities in the future when they run for another term. What a shame for these both men! They just care for themself, not the nation.

I'm disappointed that the Illinois Senators voted for the "Salazar Amdt. No. 4073 As Modified; To declare that English is the common and unifying language of the United States, and to preserve and enhance the role of the English language."

http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00132

We haven't needed a national language or to "protect" or "promote" English (the hand-me down of our former Imperial overlords, remember the little war we had with the King of England?) in all of our nations history. American English is well and alive and the most commonly spoken form of English in the world!

One hundred years ago, we would have heard people whining about German being spoken in Chicago. Now it's Spanish that's being attacked. Where's the uproar over all the Polish signs and conversations?

Yes, it irritates me that a local Currency Exchange won't hire anyone who's not bi-lingual English-Polish. But that's what happens when you have a neighborhood with immigrants.

I've traveled in Europe and Asia and have always been grateful for the bi-lingual English signage.

Instead of disguising prejudice and bigotry in some twisted "protect the language" so-called movement, Americans should get serious about become educated and begin studying non-English languages in primary schools.

God Bless AMERICA. in Plain ENGLISH!!!

Isn't it funny how people can argue against English as an official language when they themselves have to debate in English.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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