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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


Spanish language in the voting booth

By Cheryl Skinner

Iím probably going to get tarred and feathered for this opinion but I plan to voice it anyhow. The county has agreed to implement several rules mandated by the federal Department of Justice in regards to providing special interpreters and a website aimed at Spanish speaking voters.

Well, Iím just a little miffed over these requirements. Back in the good old days, long before I was old enough to vote, I can remember my grandmother talking about how her father, a German immigrant, punished the children if they spoke anything but English in the home.

Why? Because, she said, her father was adamant that he and his children were now Americans and should speak the English language ďwith pride.Ē

In addition, she noted, her father was working towards citizenship and wanted the right to vote. In order to do both, he had to speak and understand English.

That made sense to me then and it still does.

How can someone who needs an interpreter at the polls make an educated choice for government office if they cannot speak or understand the language of this country?

How can those voters understand the political rhetoric of candidates who want their vote?

I have many Spanish speaking friends and surprisingly they feel even stronger than I do about this issue.

Most of them, despite a Hispanic surname and much pride in their heritage, are life-long citizens of this country.

They express resentment that the new immigrants demand special treatment, not only at the voting booth but in department stores, hospitals, and virtually every other place that offers products or services.

I can remember going to Mexico on vacation when I was a teen and the communication problems my family had. We learned to communicate via sign language in the villages before we got to Monterey where English is spoken at hotels and tourist attractions.

We did not expect, nor did we demand, that every village in Mexico have an English language interpreter for our whims, although it would have been nice.

And, last year when State District Judge Tommy Culver began his battle for justice on behalf of his daughterís wedding party, (most of whom were victims of a hotel burglary at the destination wedding service in Mexico), all of the documents sent to him by Mexican authorities were in Spanish. There were no special government interpreters catering to the victimís needs, so it appears things havenít changed a lot since I was a teen.

Yet we are expected to provide costly services to all immigrants with seemingly special emphasis on Spanish.

County Judge Bob Hebert said stipulations on Asian languages were downgraded after some Chinese residents expressed outrage that interpreters were on hand to provide them with assistance. These immigrants and life-long citizens felt a great deal of pride in the fact they had learned English and speak it fluently.

Hebert said many of the Asian people he knows speak English as well or better than he does.

To top it all off, I am sick and tired of rummaging through a dozen pages to read instructions on how to put together a computer or operate a new television to find the English instructions.

Iím equally miffed that a can of peaches has one side of the label written in Spanish and the other in English.

This is America and America is indeed a land of immigrants. This country was built on the backs of immigrants from Spain, England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland and other countries.

The one common theme was once here was that the new residents adopted the English language.

What chaos there would have been if this country had simply divided into a dozen mini-countries with individual languages.

Instead, these loyal and patriotic newcomers worked diligently to be Americans in every sense of the word and that included speaking the English language.

We should expect no less from todayís immigrant population.


Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
April 30, 2009