“Why Aren’t You Speaking English?”

KTRH (Houston), June 17, 2011

During committee testimony this week in Austin, a Texas senator interrupted a Spanish speaker telling him he should “be speaking in English” during a committee hearing.

Antolin Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition was testifying against Senate Bill 9 that would help crack down on illegal immigrants in Texas. Aguirre spoke through an interpreter even though he had been in the U.S. since 1988.

Two minutes into Antolin Aguirre’s testimony, Sen. Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, interrupted asking Aguirre’s interrupter, “Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?” Harris asked. “Why aren’t you speaking in English then?”

{snip}

“It is insulting to us,” Sen. Harris fired back. “It is very insulting. And if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English.”

{snip}

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  • Anonymous

    Antolin Aguirre is doing what my grandparents should have done.

    My grandparents learned English, and discouraged the use of any other language.

    As a result my family has been exposed to the poisonous anti-life, pro-guilt, anti-white, and anti-family culture that has been the norm for the past 25 years, without the benefit of access to cultures that are less exposed to those poisonous values.

    I write this with all due respect — and a great deal is due — to the Anglophones who build this country.

    I wish my grandparents had insisted that their children learn Irish and German.

  • Anonymous

    Los Angeles is packed full of elderly Persian and Armenian immigrants who arrived in 1980 and can’t speak, read or understand a word of English.

  • Tran Nguyen

    Not all immigrant groups are like this; Among Asians, it’s only the grandparents who don’t learn English. The Asians make a diligent effort to study English and can speak it competently (with accent though) within 2-3 years. The children of Asian immigrants are totally fluent with no trace of accent by the time they are 8 or 9; even the kids who start kindergarten not knowing a single word of English are generally in the 80th to 99th percentile on standardized tests of English by third grade.

    Here’s a hypothetical scenario for a typical high school in California; Thuy moved to the U.S. from Vietnam at the age of 14 and starts high school not speaking a word of English. She graduates at the age of 18, totally fluent, in honors classes, with a 4.1 GPA. Jose was born in the U.S. to Mexican immigrants. While he learns to speak basic English at school, he never becomes fully fluent. He is still in ESL classes in high school and speaks mostly Spanish with his friends and only Spanish with his family; he does just enough classwork to get by but spends most of his evenings partying his friends. He graduates with a 2.1 GPA.

    Now, Guess who would be given preferences to admission to the California University system under the pretense of “language hardship?” Thuy or Jose?

  • SF Paul

    Reminds me of a former coworker. He has been in the US 24 years and could barely speak English. His excuse was that he was not comfortable speaking English.

  • Anonymous

    This is how US has become diversified/divided. The requirements for citizenship include English and this was meant to unify a common culture. It also serves to help identify citizens. Somewhere inside the immigration system the test for citizenship and the civil rights movement colluted to require interpreters and even coaches to practically take the citizenship test for immigrants. It exists inside the workplace as well under affirmative EOE. Every Company with over 50 employees must hire nonEnglish speaking immigrants to satisfy some law that requires a distribution of workers relative to the community. On and on the absurdity goes. Americans and their language/culture has been betrayed by generations of immigrants/religions demanding such policies. This is why the backlash against immigration. I know of no immigrants that supports US immigration laws. The disrespect to US culture/language/laws have brought destruction to the nation. Way too many immigrants have permanently placed destructive behaviors and divisive languages that do not understand or respect US foundations.

    Before economics a civil nation needs a common culture. The American culture has been dismantled. Look around. See what US looks like now. Does it resemble anything like the United States of your youth???? Immigrants don’t know and don’t care!

  • Anonymous

    Notice the waste of time with the interpretation. The business of the legislature could be cut in half or more if business were conducted in English. Worse, in printing the proceedings, more paper, ink, and money must be wasted of pandering to the bi-lingual, pc crowd that only wants to use Spanish.—–HM

  • Anonymous

    #2

    I recently saw a news story a week ago about a man who accidentally shot a pistol in his apartment upwards. The family above was Armenian. No one was hurt, but they interviewed a girl who was looked no more than 20, she had to have her brother translate. I don’t believe this is a problem that’s totally isolated to 1st generation immigrants.

  • Ross

    My ancestors came to America from Russia sometime around the year 1900, just like in “Fiddler on the Roof.” They did not demand that the U.S. goverment and populace speak Russian, but learned to speak English and became Americans.

    If you want to immigrate to the United States of America, come here legally, learn to speak English, and become an American!

    Hurrah for Joey Vento of South Philly for demanding that customers of his famous cheese steaks speak English when ordering!

  • Chet

    #2. Are these elderly immigrants collecting SSI and benefiting from Medicare and Medicaid? Silly me for asking when I already know the answer.

  • mark

    Senator Harris should have walked out after Antolin Aguirre refused to continue in English.

    Anonymous #1

    Being exposed to something bad and evil does not mean you have to embrace it, support it or agree with it so don’t complain. You can always go back to where your grandparents came from. I am sure it’s a much better place.

    Anonymous #2

    Please stop using the euphemistic term, Persian. Persia ceased to exist long time ago. Muslims from Iran use it to fool a large portion of uneducated and ignorant Americans (Obama voters).

  • Allan

    As a ninth generation American who started school speaking only German, I should like to point out that learning English does not require you to give up your first language. However, if you wish to live in this country, it is simply good manners to learn English.

  • Miss Whitey

    Senator Harris is absolutely correct. This man should be speaking English in a very articulate manner by now.

    My fear is that if we don’t start insisting that everyone in America speak English, one day the Hispanics will get their way and Spanish will be the official language of our country.

    In my opinion, people who immigrate to this country and that refuse to learn English and speak English are the real racists. They are the ones who divide our country. After all, if we can’t communicate with one another, how can we be a unified country?

  • Frank

    I wonder who paid for the interpreter? Guess.

  • Jefferson

    Can you imagine if an American lived in Mexico for 23 years and still refused to speak Spanish.

    I am sure Mexicans would accuse that American person of refusing to assimilatre into mainstream Mexican society.

    Mexicans are a bunch of hypocrites.

  • Jake

    People from all over the world would do anything to be able to come to America, the greatest country in the history of the world. However in Tucson there is a class for Latinos that basically advocates the overthrow of America.

    Among other things, Tucson’s 11th-grade Mexican-American studies classes include textbooks and other materials indicating white people were seen as “oppressors” of Latinos and basically promoted the overthrow of America.

    This required a law signed signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer which bans classes from kindergarten to 12th grade that are deemed to promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, encourage resentment toward a race or class of people, designed primarily for a single ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity.

    Coupled with this, we now have numerous Mexican states suing the state of Georgia for its strong immigration laws.

    Question: Do we have any national leadership in Washington?

  • Honey

    Same problem in Australia with people not making an effort to learn English. If I knew people were in the process of learning English it would be easier to be patient. But because of my expose to the Asian community I knew that there was an attitude that because Sydney was so diverse it wasn’t necessary.

    My issue was the time that I wasted trying to communicate because people couldn’t understand me and the effort needed to communicate. I realised that if I spent the time with each person I came across who couldn’t speak English, I would be wasting an hour each day.

    If someone is in the process of learning English it is easier to be patient and helpful but I started to realise that people weren’t making the effort and when they did have to communicate in English there was an expectation that the English speaker would spend their time and energy making themselves understood.

    I find it rude and insulting. it has not only wastes time but causes a lot of embarrassing situations as well.

  • Matt

    “Among Asians, it’s only the grandparents who don’t learn English. The Asians make a diligent effort to study English and can speak it competently (with accent though) within 2-3 years.”

    _____________________________________________________________

    I have to disagree with this statement, having suffered through the linguistic hellhole that Vancouver, British Columbia, has degenerated into. Hong Kong immigrants moved en masse to Canada’s west coast metropolis, and as a result, the term ‘British Columbia’ has no relevance to the country’s third largest city. When I lived there, I noticed that hardly any of the Hong Kong immigrants made any attempt to learn English. Instead, they yelled in Cantonese at the top of their lungs in malls, on buses, and just about everywhere else. One day, I went through 3 different malls, and I never heard a word of English spoken (let alone saw another white face). And this was in Vancouver itself, not even including Richmond just to the south, which is a HUGE Asian community.

    When I worked in Vancouver (and mercifully heard English spoken in the office), I became friendly with a woman who’d immigrated from Hong Kong. She spoke pretty good English, but even she admitted that becoming fluent in English was not exactly encouraged in her ethnic community. She told me she’d never dare speak English in Richmond for fear of the reaction that’d engender from her fellow Asian immigrants. Yes, you heard it right – she admitted to being scared to speak English in public in Canada. And she told me that for a lot of Chinese people, you only really need to learn enough English to be able to pass the TOEFL test, which is a language test needed for college and university admission (at least for those persons whose first language is not English).

    Many of these Asian people were definitely not interested in becoming fluent in English. I will admit that many of these Hong Kong immigrants were prosperous, etc., but precious few seemed to want to learn English, let alone be nice to people of other ethnic backgrounds.

  • Anonymous

    The theory behind all the Mexican protests by students and others is the alleged proposition that America stole large areas from Mexico in the American/Mexican war and the Mexicans in Mexico and the US want it back.

    As a matter of fact, the American Southwest was not, groups such as MEChA claims, “stolen” from Mexico. Following the Mexican-American War, the government of Mexico legally ceded this territory to the United States (by the Treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo, 1848). Nor has there ever been any place called “Aztlan” on American soil, much less a “Nation of Aztlan.” Invented 30 years ago by radical Latino activists.

  • Anonymous

    The real issue is that he was able to live 23 years in the U.S. without feeling any need to learn English. The rise of permanent Spanish-speaking enclaves now hangs over America. As a Canadian who knows a thing or two about problems caused by language, this is a really bad sign for America.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous wrote:

    “Los Angeles is packed full of elderly Persian and Armenian immigrants who arrived in 1980 and can’t speak, read or understand a word of English.”

    Beverly Hills, you probably mean!

    Are they Moslems? No, they’re not.

    I’m sure that lack of English hasn’t hampered their ability to make money in any tinest way. They are not suffering.

  • Bull Market

    Jefferson wrote:

    Can you imagine if an American lived in Mexico for 23 years and still refused to speak Spanish? I am sure Mexicans would accuse that American of refusing to assimilatre into mainstream Mexican society.

    Mexicans are a bunch of hypocrites.

    ___________________________

    Well, no. I would say instead that Mexicans are the sensible ones in this matter.

    Though I hate to say it, we are the silly fools who have fallen to PC nonsense. How they musty be laughing at us! They are getting the Southwest back without even firing a shot. Meanwhile, we bend over backwards to accommodate them.

  • Anonymous

    One point perhaps lost by many in Aguirre’s use of Spanish is his apparent desire to encourage bilingual requirements for government job positions, requirements which give a huge hiring advantage to bilingual Hispanics over English-only Americans. Similar to the situation that bilingual requirements for Canadian government jobs providing a huge advantage for French Canadians.

    It’s not just the hiring of that Spanish speaking translator Aguirre cares about, it’s seeing to it that more and more Texas government jobs require knowledge of Spanish as a prerequisite for hire, and feigning ignorance of English is the technique that people like Aguirre use to advance that ugly goal.

  • Mr.White

    3 — Tran Nguyen wrote at 9:32 PM on June 17:

    Not all immigrant groups are like this; Among Asians, it’s only the grandparents who don’t learn English. The Asians make a diligent effort to study English and can speak it competently (with accent though) within 2-3 years. The children of Asian immigrants are totally fluent with no trace of accent by the time they are 8 or 9; even the kids who start kindergarten not knowing a single word of English are generally in the 80th to 99th percentile on standardized tests of English by third grade.

    Here’s a hypothetical scenario for a typical high school in California; Thuy moved to the U.S. from Vietnam at the age of 14 and starts high school not speaking a word of English. She graduates at the age of 18, totally fluent, in honors classes, with a 4.1 GPA. Jose was born in the U.S. to Mexican immigrants. While he learns to speak basic English at school, he never becomes fully fluent. He is still in ESL classes in high school and speaks mostly Spanish with his friends and only Spanish with his family; he does just enough classwork to get by but spends most of his evenings partying his friends. He graduates with a 2.1 GPA.

    Now, Guess who would be given preferences to admission to the California University system under the pretense of “language hardship?” Thuy or Jose?

    —————————————————————-

    Why would your darling “Thuy” need or even consider a “language hardship” if she were fluent in English as your analogy contends? Trying to game the system no doubt. What a shocker!

    As far as I’m concerned, there should be no “language hardship” exception for the likes of Thuy or Jose.

    BTW…don’t give me this “fully assimilated,” speaking English nonsense for your Vietnamese. I’ve lived in Orange County, CA my entire life and have seen the ethnic enclaves your people have created. There are parts of Orange County that one can drive for miles and not see a single sign posted in English. Am I to believe all these signs were created strictly for the benefit of grandma and grandpa?

    Please don’t make the Vietnamese out to be the model poster children for assimilation. They are anything but….

  • June

    If these people who are still speaking another language are legal, I wonder why? Part of the oath of citizenship is to have knowledge of the English language. I think that all the requirements of the oath should be fulfilled before they are granted citizenship. In fact, I’d like a moratorium on all immigration for ten years.

  • Mary

    I majored in Spanish and speak it fluently to this day. I spent my life, and a lot of money, studying the Spanish language, as well as Hispanic culture and literature. It’s only until the ‘open border crowd’, La Raza and other radical illegal immigrant groups became vocal that I have regretted the choice of my youth.

    It has never occurred to me that this country is anything but the USA. My native tongue is English. I am proud of my rich and colorful native language as well as my heritage. It’s an outrage that Mexicans and other non-English speaking groups come here and expect communications to be translated. I have an international job. When I call Mexico and South America, I call them in Spanish. But when I call Florida, Texas or Arizona and somebody answers the phone in Spanish, saying they don’t speak English, I tell them (in English) to get someone on the phone who does. I refuse to kowtow to these people even though I have the knowledge. When in Rome, you do what the Romans do. The fact that so many immigrants are illegal should make them want to blend in, but they don’t. Instead, taxpayers pay for translators at govt. hearings and criminal trials for people who have lived here for years but never felt the need to learn English.

    When I go through the On Demand features from your cable service, I see whole blocks of Spanish programming. Why should they learn English when ticket holders and cable subscribers are paying for Spanish translation? People who have no desire to learn English can watch all the latest movies and never have to spend a dime on Rosetta Stone. Every major city has a Spanish channel. In this area we have Univision. Now we’re starting to see our On Demand just littered with Spanish garbage, plus now we’re getting Filipino, Korean and Russian, among others.

    The govt. and communication businesses are directly to blame for this situation. If they stop pandering to these people – some of whom have been here for years and are even illegal – they will have to learn English to survive. Right now, that’s not necessary. Our socialistic society has coddled immigrants and that’s why immigration is so popular today. Back in the old days, immigrating here was not only an adventure but a risk. When people reached our shores, there was no welfare, Medicaid, food stamps or other freebies. It was learn the language and get a job or go back to where you came from.

    As long as we make immigration, legal or illegal, so attractive, our society will continue being pervaded by people who have no education and nothing to contribute, no desire to learn English, and many coming in here with diseases that were wiped out decades ago. If they are forced to learn English and assimilate to get work, I guarantee you that our borders won’t be as attractive to a lot of them and they’ll stay where they are.

  • SKIP

    “Beverly Hills, you probably mean!

    Are they Moslems? No, they’re not.

    YES THEY ARE MUSLIMS!! Nothing but Muslims from all over the world are being allowed in the U.S. now, and America is especially fond of Somali muslims. I have heard here before that Armenians are not muslims, I say again YES THEY ARE MUSLIMS coming to the U.S. and they are especially rude, combative and clannish.

  • Anonymous

    3 — Tran Nguyen wrote at 9:32 PM on June 17:

    Not all immigrant groups are like this; Among Asians, it’s only the grandparents who don’t learn English. The Asians make a diligent effort to study English and can speak it competently (with accent though) within 2-3 years. The children of Asian immigrants are totally fluent with no trace of accent by the time they are 8 or 9; even the kids who start kindergarten not knowing a single word of English are generally in the 80th to 99th percentile on standardized tests of English by third grade.

    Here’s a hypothetical scenario for a typical high school in California; Thuy moved to the U.S. from Vietnam at the age of 14 and starts high school not speaking a word of English. She graduates at the age of 18, totally fluent, in honors classes, with a 4.1 GPA. Jose was born in the U.S. to Mexican immigrants. While he learns to speak basic English at school, he never becomes fully fluent. He is still in ESL classes in high school and speaks mostly Spanish with his friends and only Spanish with his family; he does just enough classwork to get by but spends most of his evenings partying his friends. He graduates with a 2.1 GPA.

    Now, Guess who would be given preferences to admission to the California University system under the pretense of “language hardship?” Thuy or Jose?

    Tran,

    I agree with you.

    A few years ago I had a student who came from Vietnam. He was an ethnic Chinese who was born and raised in the Cholon district of the former Saigon. I gather that Cholon was the “Chinatown” of Saigon.

    THis boy spoke only Chinese and Viet. He came in as a freshman and by senior year was speaking almost perfect colloquial English with a slight accent ansdusing your typical teen expressions and jargon while chatting with his classmates. He was remarkable.

    Some years before I had a Korean student who came to my Spanish class speaking no English. He had three dictionaries so as to navegate around the three languages. Although I used Spanish almost exclusively in the class, when it came to some esoteric grammar situations I explained them in English for edpediency’s sake.

    He came for extra help once a week and by his Junior year he was doing quite well with both English and Spanish.

    In my recent years I taught at a rather diverse High School that has a sizeable East Asian population. Asian kids are a teacher’s delight with very few exceptions. One of my colleagues used to say ” Get a class of Asians and motivated White kids and it’s like you died and went to heaven”.

    As I taught upper level classes I had exactly that mix and there were rarely any discipline problems e.g unruly behavior, in your face attitude etc.

  • Anonymous

    To Skip:

    You are out of your mind if you think Armenians are muslims. You either have them confused with some other group or are badly misinformed. You would be very hard pressed to find any people with more hostility towards Islam then Armenians. Don’t you know about all the muslim Turks actions against Christian Aremenians? Don’t you know that Armenia was the worlds first Christian kingdom?

  • Anonymous

    Many congressional committees hold “public commenting” periods which provide any member of the public to raise issues concerning the matter before the committee. The obvious purpose of raising a public comment is to persuade the committee to adopt your position on the issue. Anyone who would present the comment in a language that the committee cannot understand is simply wasting everybody’s time.

  • Anonymous

    Poster # 10

    Then why do all the Los Angeles Persians including the under 20’s who are 2nd generation Americans refer to themselves as Persians?

    Why are Beverly Hills and other areas of West Los Angeles referred to as Persian neighborhoods? Why is Westwood blvd refered to as either Little Persia or Little Tehran? Why did various Persian community organizations ask that a section of Westwood be named Persian Square?

    Why do all of them, muslim, jews, zorastrians, nestorians, regular catholics and various kinds of christians all call themselves Persians?

    I live in the middle of it all. I never hear the word Iran. I hear Persian food, Persian store, Persian gas station etc.They refer to the people as Persians. They don’t like the name Iranian because Iran has been an enemy of America for about 35 years now. Persia named itself Iran around 1935.

    BTW, i’m not ignorant about Persians. I am surrounded by them.

  • Bull Market

    26 — SKIP wrote at 1:24 AM on June 20:

    “Beverly Hills, you probably mean!

    Are they Moslems? No, they’re not.

    YES THEY ARE MUSLIMS!!

    ———————

    No, they are NOT.

    Your total obsession with Moslems has made you delusional.

    Those rich Persians in Beverly Hills are NOT Moslems! They came here (with tons of money) fleeing the Islamic revolution. Do a little checking before you spout your nonsense. In other words, put brain in gear before mouth in motion — always a wise thing to do.

  • Wordy Anonymous

    SKIP writes:

    I have heard here before that Armenians are not muslims, I say again YES THEY ARE MUSLIMS coming to the U.S. and they are especially rude, combative and clannish.

    You heard wrong!!

    Armenians ARE NOT MUSLIMS they are Eastern Orthodox Christians.

    But, you are correct that they are rude, combative and clannish

  • Even Worse

    2 — Anonymous wrote at 6:13 PM on June 17:

    Los Angeles is packed full of elderly Persian and Armenian immigrants who arrived in 1980 and can’t speak, read or understand a word of English.

    Yes it is. And besides the hordes of Latin American immigrants who can’t speak English here in L.A., we are also buried under elderly Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Korean etc. immigrants who not only don’t speak English, but are collecting Social Security and other benefits despite never having worked a day in the U.S..