SOURCE: U.S.English

U.S.English

March 31, 2014 14:05 ET

U.S.English Chairman Calls Justice Department Filing Detrimental to Foreign Language Speakers

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - Mar 31, 2014) - U.S.English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica today released the following statement in response to a U.S. Department of Justice filing. The Department of Justice filed court documents in support of a lawsuit alleging that Hawaii discriminates against foreign language speakers by providing driver's license tests only in English.

The lawsuit was filed by Faith Action for Community Equity last year, and prompted the Hawaii Transportation Department to recently begin offering the driver's license test in 12 languages in addition to English.

"Nearly twelve percent of Hawaii residents are considered limited English proficient, meaning they would struggle to carry on more than a basic conversation in English," Chairman Mujica said. "Providing foreign language translations, including offering driver's license testing in foreign languages, will only serve as a detriment to this population. While foreign language driver's license testing may remove one language barrier, non-English speakers will still face challenges when at schools, hospitals and in a host of other daily situations. Rather than allow the crutch of native language translations, the government would better serve residents by adding an additional incentive for these residents to learn English. By offering services in English, residents are further encouraged to become proficient in the common language of Hawaii -- and the United States. Not to mention, there are 104 languages spoken in Hawaii. Why offer driver's license testing in only a select few? Doing so only further isolates the speakers of other foreign languages. I encourage the Hawaii Transportation Department to rethink their recent decision and return to English driver's license testing. The money saved on translations could even be used to create English learning opportunities to help break down the barriers non-English speakers face -- rather than maintain them."

U.S.English, Inc. is the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, U.S.English, Inc. (www.usenglish.org) now has more than 1.8 million members.

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