WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwired) -- 06/28/13 -- U.S.English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica today released the following statement in response to the Senate's passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, will permit current illegal immigrants to stay in the United States upon meeting certain criteria, including paying back taxes and undergoing background checks. The bill also includes increased border security provisions, which should be enforced prior to granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
"It is extremely disappointing that the Senate's immigration reform bill of more than 1,200 pages does not include any of the English language amendments that were proposed," Chairman Mujica said. "English proficiency is the one tool that immigrants to the United States need to succeed here. Rather than making it easier for immigrants to come to this country and maintain their native language, the government should be encouraging them to assimilate and learn our common language. English proficiency is already required for naturalization, and should likewise be required prior to granting residency to illegal immigrants."
The legislation passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 68 - 32 and now awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator Deb Fischer all introduced amendments that would have strengthened English language requirements and processes. One would have declared English the official language of the United States government, one would have required immigrants to demonstrate English proficiency prior to gaining residency, and one would have accounted for the cost of multilingualism in the federal government. None of these amendments were included in the legislation passed by the Senate.
"As the House of Representatives prepares to take up immigration reform legislation, I strongly urge them to include crucial provisions highlighting the importance of English proficiency among immigrants to the United States," Mujica added. "Immigrants who learn English prior to becoming residents of the United States will find that doors of opportunity open to them and they will be able to contribute to society on a level playing field with native citizens. The English language is the one thread that unites American citizens in our diversity, and immigration reform that does not require English proficiency is not serving its purpose."
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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