HomeQ&A"English Only! Send Spanish Back to Mexico!"

"English Only! Send Spanish Back to Mexico!"


Those slogans have appeared in print here in Arizona.

That's ironic in a state whose population is 30% of Hispanic origin, and where a sizable portion of Hispanics have a far longer residency and citizenship than do most of the English-speaking majority.

Despite that, Spanish has been constantly under attack as an undesirable language in Arizona.

What's worse, the attack was so successful that a statewide referendum for "English-only" passed in 2008. The intent was to ban using Spanish in all state documents. (So far, there was been no change, due to lack of funding.)

There is also much resentment over Federal requirements to provide "English as a Second Language" in the public schools, so much so that some local school districts have sued the state because of inadequate funding.

How are things where you live?

updated DIC 6, 2009
posted by 0057ed01

14 Answers


I don't understand the resentment toward English as a second language being required to be taught in government run schools. Don't we want immigrants to learn English as soon as possible? Shouldn't we be encouraging that? It seems to me that would be a very good thing.

However- I am all for making English the official language of the United States, and making it a requirement to gain citizenship. The United States is called a "melting pot", that is a good thing, and a common language is a necessity for that to continue.

Government should not have to pay for the writing, printing, and storing of all documents in more than one language. That is a burden and expense that shouldn't be necessary.

I do think that there should be government sponsored Spanish PBS TV and radio as an aid to our immigrant population. (In fact, I'd be in favor of converting every existing PBS station to Spanish!)

But businesses should be free to print signs and anything else they want in as many languages that make sense for their customers who may or may not speak English well. Spanish is in the US to stay, and people have to get used to that.

updated DIC 6, 2009
posted by Goyo
Canada has 2 "official" languages - English and French. How about English and Spanish for the US? After all, in another 20 years or so, Hispanics will become the majority population. Almost there in California! - 0057ed01, DIC 5, 2009
Hispanics should move out of california, because cali is going to fall off into the ocean one day! - cheeseisyummy, DIC 6, 2009

Better yet, why not send all humans back to Africa?

updated ENE 19, 2010
posted by samdie
lol Samdie.The earth is small and we all end up walking on the same ground. - nizhoni1, DIC 5, 2009
Africa and Europe :/ - DarkTree, DIC 6, 2009

This issue is usually, seemingly, heated up by those who don't realize - or who don't want to admit - that the states of California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (have I missed any?) were swindled from Mexico back in 1847. This was a convenient time for President James K. Polk to do so since he had just defeated the Mexican army and decided not only "buy" Texas as part of Mexico's surrender, but to include the other northern parts of Mexico in the same extortion. Also convenient was the discovery of gold in California 2 years later.

By the way, Polk was for many years considered to be the worst of American presidents - at least until George Bush JR came along.

The best reason for knowing any history is to be able to understand why are in our current predicament.

updated MAY 2, 2010
posted by 005faa61
Thanks for the reminder. I like this response a lot! - 0057ed01, DIC 5, 2009
I disagree on your evaluation of Polk. He ran his campaign on going to war with Mexico in order to add those states to the union. He did exactly what he promised, perhaps more so than any other president in our country's history. - hithere3387, DIC 5, 2009
This may be true from the US point of view, but from the Mexican point of view, the war was over Texas. In any case, to go to war to take another country's land is imperialist aggression. - 005faa61, DIC 5, 2009
I don't disagree on that point. However, traditionally when rating a President's term in the United States, we evaulate much of it on whether they kept campaign promises, regardless of the consequences of the according action. Or at least, I do. :) - hithere3387, DIC 5, 2009
For the most part, presidents are evaluated according to how well one agrees with their actions per se, not on how well they conform to campaign promises. - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009
Such evaluation may be more or less objective, but "agreement" often rests on my personal context, and not the historical one. Who can really blame a president for acting thusly under various pressures (social, political) that we cannot comprehend? - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009
Or to put it another way, if I morally disagree with Polk's actions as president, who am I to make such a judgment based on my personal context, or even the standards of today's society, while ignoring all other contexts? - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009

¡Me hace muy enojada! angry It's unjust that they're doing that, how dare they? I'm prejudice against discrimination of any kind. . .it's just perfectly wrong!!! angry Luckily it's not happenig where I live, else they'd be getting a piece of my mind!! But it shouldn't be happening anywhere, mind. What is wrong with some people? I do think, however, that we need a common language, and so many people have been speaking English for many years, so it should be English. But that doesn't mean that Spanish can't stay, nor does it mean that people have a right to put up anti-Spanish signs. I think we should provide Spanish speaking people with more opportunities to learn English, and then they could speak both languages.

updated DIC 6, 2009
edited by june10
posted by june10
I totally agree... Removing the language barrier woud do a LOT to stop (or at least diminish) racism towards Mexicans and other Spanish speaking residents. Once people realize that there is not that much difference between them, the world will be... - JCameron, DIC 5, 2009
... a much more accepting place for everyone to live. - JCameron, DIC 5, 2009
But anti-English signs are ok? - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009

I think that all school districts located in areas of high immigrant populations should definitely offer ESL. I also think that as a country founded by immigrants, we should embrace all (legal) immigrants and do whatever we can to help make their transition easy.

These people that put up signs that say they want Spanish to go back to Mexico probably think that they are perfect Americans. When in reality, it is Un-American to not embrace immigrants.

updated DIC 6, 2009
posted by luhzon89
What would you do with the 12 million who are allegedly here illegally? Round them up and send them back? Most are hard working at jobs no one wants, and are family oriented, and law abiding. (And some of them are my friends!) - 0057ed01, DIC 5, 2009
I don't disagree, but our country welcomes immigrants that are willing to follow to procedures to become citizens. I would say that those 12 million should follow the rules like everyone else. They are all welcome to become legal citizens. - luhzon89, DIC 5, 2009
Of course you both have a point - the Mexicans work hard at the bottom end of the agricultural sector, but I for one have seen my share of their fake IDs and SS cards. And I am in a position to know these things. - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009

I think all of the bordering states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) should make both English and Spanish official languages. In fact, any states with such a notable non-English speaking population should set their official languages. Most of the Hispanics that I know speak Spanish and English well.

updated DIC 7, 2009
posted by epicfail

In South Carolina, the issue has been more or less swept under the rug. Politicians don't really want to acknowledge that there is a problem. Nor, apparently, do local newspapers and News Channels. However, I work a summer job as a lifeguard and swim instructor at a local swimming pool. It is fairly well attended by Spanish speakers, however, I have not come across a single child who cannot speak English well. On occasion, when parents come to the pool (the kids who attend usually come with a Summer camp and not with their parents), they don't speak English. On a side note, I had a lot of difficulty explaining to a Spanish speaking father how his daughter needed to work on her strokes outside of the swimming lesson. Personally, I have found all the Spanish speaking kids very well behaved and respectful, which is something you really appreciate after yelling yourself horse at hundreds of crazy little kids.

During every school year, my school has a school-wide read where everybody from the school reads a book and then we listen to speakers and watch presentations relating to the book. This year, our school-wide read was a book called "A Home on the Field." It is about Spanish speaking kids fighting against racism, locals who felt threatened by the influx of Mexicans, even the KKK, in order to create a soccer (or fútbol) team at their school in North Carolina. To make a long story short, Paul Cuadros (the author and coach), helped the kids create a team and eventually win the state championship. This led to more acceptance, and respect, for the Spanish speaking individuals in the city. After reading the book and listening to a presentation by Paul Cuadros, a lot of the kids in my class didn't really know what to think. On one hand, we didn't really want things to change or have to deal with the related expenses that we will have to pay in the future, but at the same time, some of the people crossing the border were no longer statistics; they were people, just like us. Certainly, there were some individuals who were disgusted by the attention that the school was spending on immigrants. There was also a very small handful of people who were blatantly racist about the whole thing, and another small handful who didn't care about people crossing the border (legally OR illegally). However, on the whole, everyone was more or less neutral.

Personally, I was extremely disappointed by how extremely biased Paul Cuadros was towards Latinos in both his book and presentation. He also wrote some sentences that could be considered racist towards non-Latinos. Although he was the recipient of a similar kind of discrimination, I expected a little more from a man who used to write for newspapers, and currently teaches Journalism classes at UNC Chapel-Hill.

updated DIC 6, 2009
posted by JCameron
These children are good bilingualists - unfortunately, school delinquency is also very prevalent among Hispanic children. The Hispanic drop-out rate is 35.5%, but that only counts those who have attended classes. - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009
I say "good" because they're not great - for example, a little girl with Hispanic parents translating "midnight" as "doce" instead of "medianoche." - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009

Oh this kind of things always upsets me. A few days ago I saw a pickup truck with stickers on it saying "Extranjeros ir a casa. Get out of Iraq and Invade Mexico!" I wonder where this guy's family was from, he looked white to me; not Native American. His ancestors were obviously immigrants to the USA.

People think it's so easy to learn English as soon as you move here, but we all know how difficult it is to learn another language! Some people act as if latinos are refusing to learn or speak English. Of couse that's not the case. I've seen some English-speaking Americans totally belittle others for not speaking English well or speaking with an accent. They often don't even try to understand or get easily frustrated. If I were an immigrant, I'd probably feel scared or embarrassed when trying to speak English here.

updated DIC 6, 2009
edited by Eddy
posted by 003487d6
Oh and this is in Baltimore, Maryland - 003487d6, DIC 5, 2009
Well said. - Goyo, DIC 5, 2009
It works both ways. I am sometimes laughed at by Mexicans for not speaking Spanish well enough (even when I know I'm in the right). - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009

Inconcebible en un mundo globalizado y en un país de inmigrantes. mad

updated DIC 5, 2009
posted by RicardoP
De acuerdo! No es justo!! - june10, DIC 5, 2009
Inconceivable, yes! But very common, I'm afraid. (Ever hear of Pat Buchanan, Glen Beck, and Lou Dobbs? They have millions of "followers.") - 0057ed01, DIC 5, 2009
If our "indians", native americans, are discriminated what can we expect from others? - RicardoP, DIC 5, 2009

I have lived in Arizona and recognize the sentiment expressed in the first post. The climate here in northeastern NM is a little different.

Highlands University here in town has a strong program in social work and may be the only on in the US that has a bilingual /dual language requirement.

updated DIC 7, 2009
posted by nizhoni1

That is ridiculous!

updated DIC 6, 2009
edited by caballos-amor
posted by caballos-amor
Your spelling is ridiculous! - epicfail, DIC 6, 2009
Así que me perdí una letra! ¡Gran cosa! - caballos-amor, DIC 6, 2009

It doesn't really matter if Spanish is taught in schools or not. Most Americans are just too lazy to learn a new language. Sad, but true.

updated DIC 6, 2009
posted by billy-jones
Do you have a citation to the effect that most [English-speaking?] Americans are too lazy to learn a new language? - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009
You may as well have said that Americans are too "arrogant" or Americans are too [insert invective here]. Such subjective moral judgments only add fuel to the fire and solve nothing. - Malenor, DIC 6, 2009

The US has no official language, but some states such as Illinois have English as their official language. I can think of only one reason to create an official language in the US - to discourage immigration. Then there are those who want two official languages, Spanish and English. But to what end? It seems that every sign posted in government buildings and other places frequented by Hispanics is already bilingual. (It's been a long time since I have seen one posted in multiple languages such as Chinese.) Doesn't this discriminate against non-Hispanics and non-English? Wouldn't the creation of two official languages only make matters worse for them? People talk about the melting-pot, but they forget that this consists of far more than two cultures. Furthermore, if there were two official languages, this would only serve to increase the language barrier which already divides the two cultures. And anyway, culture consists of far more than language. However, Hispanics have assimilated well into American culture, while retaining their own heritage, and so have integrated peacefully, whereas in many parts of the world Muslims attempt to force their values on other cultures as in Australia where they have enforced some of their own values (Burka swimwear for the women, Muslim or otherwise, on beaches), or in Britain where Sharia rule has officially been established as an alternative to the British court system. So for the most part I would say that Americans have avoided this kind of empirialist tendency, we have maintained the melting-pot tradition against attempts to undermine it, and I would like things to stay that way.

updated DIC 6, 2009
edited by Malenor
posted by Malenor

Well, I haven't read through all these posts, sorry if I repeat another post smile

You live in Sherrif Arapahoe (my apologies for the bad spelling) country mi amigo smile

You are fighting the battle for us in an area full of dynamite for the hispanic (latino, mexican) population in our country. Fight the good fight and never give up what you love about the Spanish language and the culture smile

updated DIC 5, 2009
posted by sunshinzmommie
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