Posted on February 8, 2012

Court Says Woman with Limited English Can Be Kept Off Ballot

Mary Slosson, Reuters, February 7, 2012

Arizona’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a city council candidate with limited English language skills can be kept off the ballot in a largely bilingual town on the Mexico border.

A Yuma County Superior Court judge touched off a furor last week when he disqualified Alejandrina Cabrera, 35, from running for city council in the town of San Luis over what he called a “large gap” between her English proficiency and that required to serve as a public official.

In a brief two-page ruling, the Arizona Supreme Court did not give a reason why it sided with the lower court, but said a written decision would follow “in due course.”


Immigrant rights activists called such language-based restrictions hostile to immigrants, potentially driving a wedge between Latino communities and the rest of American society.

Proponents of enforcing English as the sole language of state government said that the country needs a common tongue to promote national unity. {snip}


San Luis, with a population of roughly 25,000 people, is about 200 miles southwest of Phoenix and lies just over a steel border fence from San Luis Rio Colorado, in Mexico’s northern Sonora state, with a population of roughly 200,000.

The two municipalities are considered by many residents as one and the same community.

Cabrera, a U.S. citizen born in Yuma, Arizona, was not immediately available for comment but was expected to issue a statement later on Tuesday, according to Brandon Kinsey, one of her lawyers.

Though Cabrera was born in Yuma, she moved to Mexico when she was young and spent much of her childhood there. She returned to Arizona for the last three years of high school, eventually graduating from Yuma’s public Kofa High School.