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La Liga de Las Americas

1Opponents speak out against English Only bill

COLUMBUS, OH (AP): Opponents are speaking out against a proposal to declare English as Ohio’s official language—even before the bill is introduced in Ohio’s legislature.

This is the third time such a proposal has been introduced and/or considered, the first being in 1987. Judge José Villanueva of the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas spoke out against it last week at the Cleveland City Club.

State Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Fairfield, has said he will introduce his so-called Ohio English Unity Act, which would require state agencies to produce records only in English.

Fairfield is in Butler County, south of Dayton.

Opponents say the law, which supposedly is intended to unite Ohioans under one language, could instead divide immigrants and native-born U.S.-Americans. Moreover, it has been criticized as being unnecessary and divisive, if not racist. 

Julia Arbini Carbonell, president of the Ohio Hispanic Coalition, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, said the legislation disrespects immigrants. She calls it “a bill about intolerance.”

Benson Wolman of the Equal Justice Foundation in Columbus said the legislation could conflict with an amendment of civil-rights law that requires government agencies to ensure that people who don’t speak English well are receiving services.

He says the law probably would be challenged in court.

The Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA) has been working with Combs to develop a bill that does not persecute people who are trying to learn English, said Ezra C. Escudero, executive director.

Expanding language instruction, promoting multiple-language skills and bolstering funding to groups that help immigrants are better alternatives, he said.

Partial information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com





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