Friday, March 9, 2007

Georgia's New Message For Immigrants: Speak English Or Get Out

Atlanta, GA
The Journal-Constitution is reporting that we may be one step closer to having English constitutionally declared the official language of Georgia.


A proposed constitutional amendment that would reaffirm English as the state's official language took its first step toward the ballot box Tuesday, gaining unanimous approval of a House subcommittee.

English is already the official language of Georgia by statute. But Rep. Timothy Bearden (R-Villa Rica), sponsor of HR 413, said he wants to give voters a chance to cement it into the state constitution in 2008. Protecting English is critical now, he said, in light of the federal government's inability to control the flow of illegal immigrants who aren't assimilating into American society.

28 other states have laws in place designating English as the official language. Bearden hopes that this resolution will enable Georgia officials to cease to offer the driver's license exam in languages other than English. However, those who support illegal immigration are highly opposed to the resolution.


Allen Shaklan, one of two immigrant advocates to speak against the measure Tuesday, said Alabama's English law was struck down precisely because the state failed to provide driver's exams in other languages.

The proposed resolution in Georgia would harm immigrants who need to obtain a driver's license so they can better integrate into society, said Shaklan, executive director of Refugee Family Services in Stone Mountain.

"This would dramatically affect their ability to find jobs and support their families," he said. "Is this the message Georgia wants to send . . . that people of different backgrounds are not welcome?"

Supporters of the resolution seem confident that it will be passed.


Anti-illegal immigration advocate D.A. King, president of the Marietta-based Dustin Inman Society, spoke in a language all the legislators could understand. Polls, King said, consistently show widespread support for English as an official language.

Original article here:

Panel OKs Amendment Making English Official Language

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