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English Language Unity Act Introduced in the 111th Congress

Similar legislation in 109th, 110th Congresses had more than 150 co-sponsors

February 11, 2009

A geographically diverse group of lawmakers introduced legislation today to make English the official language of the United States. Sponsored by Rep. Steve King and 58 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 997 would reduce government multilingualism and return the focus of government agencies to promoting English acquisition. With numerous polls revealing that more than four-fifths of Americans support the bill, making English the official language is expected to be a hotly debated topic in any Congressional consideration of immigration and assimilation issues. 

“After years of discussion, I hope the 111th Congress will be the one to promote our common language and cease separating people along language lines,” said Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman of the Board of U.S. English, Inc. “At a time when we are looking for ideas that favor economic empowerment and reduce reliance on government, an official English policy is sensible legislation that is supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.” 

The English Language Unity Act of 2009 would require the United States government to conduct most official business in English. Specifically, H.R. 997 would limit routine government operations to English, while giving government agencies common sense flexibility to protect public health and safety, national security, and to provide for the needs of commerce and criminal justice systems. 

Efforts to make English the official language of the United States date back to 1981, when Senator S.I. Hayakawa introduced legislation to emphasize English acquisition and reduce government multilingualism. Since that time, more than 650 members of Congress have co-sponsored or voted for pending measures, including five which passed the Senate and one which passed the House of Representatives. In the 110th Congress, there were more than 150 bi-partisan co-sponsors of The English Language Unity Act, marking the eighth time in the last nine Congresses where an official English bill has garnered co-sponsorships from more than 100 Representatives. 

“Making English the official language is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue,” continued Mujica. “I look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to reduce limited English proficiency in the United States and promote English acquisition through sensible government policies.”


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