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.


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  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

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

    Did racism come up? It will.  Interestingly, it was a fellow Hispanic and ‘former friend’ who called her out on her inability to speak English, to block her from the ballot for a seat on the City Council.  She can scream racism, hate, xenophobia at him.

    I do feel this opening a box of Pandora, and we don’t know where it’s going to lead, said Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla, who filed a legal challenge of Mrs. Cabrera’s English ability.

    To asses her ability to speak and understand English, Cabrera was asked tough questions like, “Where did you go to school?”  To which she replied: “1990.”

    The City Attorney stated:

    This is the law.  The 1910 act granting Arizona statehood required officeholders to perform their duties in English without the aid of a translator. It’s been on the books since statehood.

    An inability to speak English show contempt for America.

     Well done AZ Supreme Court.


    • Anonymous

      There are also a small number of hispanics who are against the “latinoization” of the US and recognize all we have to lose when the US turns into Mexico North.

  • Makes one wonder who her constituents in the town of San Luis might be. Perhaps illegal invaders and other so-called “American citizens” who didn’t bother to learn English.

    Whenever faced with such a “dilemma,” ask yourself what mexico would do on a similar situation. In this case, the question would go something like this: Would one (a so-called mexican citizen mind you) be able to run for office in mexico and not be able to speak spanish?

  • She’s had 35 years to study English! Just goes to show how important this country and learning English was to her.

  • Anonymous

    I hope Arizona continues to stand it’s ground. Because, otherwise, now that they’ve shown their ‘evil’ side to the federal government, they’ll be steam rolled if they don’t keep showing they have the guts to defy them. 

    The kind of government that’s in place now loves signs of weakness from it’s opponents or targets.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to know if this so-called high school that she “graduated” from is facing any questions about how their alumni can’t speak English at even the most basic level necessary for public interaction.