The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 2, 2011

Robin L. Quillon | English-only bills a no-brainer

Robin L. Quillon

— As this newspaper reported this past week, state Republicans are pushing two bills before the House State Government Committee that would make English the official language of Pennsylvania – HB 361 and HB 888.

These bills would require all official state government functions to be conducted in English.

HB 888 would require the use of the English language for state government and all of its political subdivisions, such as county and municipal governments and school system services.

HB 361 would require only state government services to use the English language.

Neither bill would affect foreign language courses or classes designed to increase English proficiency, such as English as a Second Language, or ESL, courses.

Nor would the bills eliminate interpreters for litigants in the court system.

Folks, this is a no-brainer. These bills should be passed immediately.

I agree with Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, who said, “This is common-sense stuff that we should have been doing for a long time and taxpayers across Pennsylvania shouldn’t have to subsidize foreign languages. It may be small, but it will be cost saving.”

Having lived in Florida for many years, I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens when government fails to insist immigrants learn our language. Many times down south, I’ve been in situations when the person behind the counter did not speak a word of English. The individual pointed at pictures to confirm an order.

Conversing with them was impossible.

When you asked a question, their expression was similar to what you get when you stare into the eye of a chicken.

I felt sorry for one poor girl; her manager was impatiently barking orders at her in Spanish from the back of the kitchen as she attempted to wait on customers.

But hey, look on the  bright side. At least she was working and not sitting on her lazy butt collecting welfare checks as so many do in our area.

But that is another issue.

The fact is, learning English is the key to success in America and around the world.

If you emigrate here LEGALLY, then by gosh learn our language.

Try going to Mexico and demanding special accommodations because you don’t speak that country’s language. They will laugh your gringo behind back to the states.

I really don’t care if the state saves one thin dime when this bill passes into law. I believe what this legislation does is send a strong message to legal immigrants that it is important they assimilate into our culture, and not vice versa.

Opponents of these bills say this should not be a priority and would hurt economic growth.

Anne O’Callaghan, executive director of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, an organization that helps immigrants get involved in Pennsylvania’s political, economic and social life, opposes the legislation because of  “the powerful warning it sends to international business people, visitors and students.”

The legislation’s “message will be clear: Pennsylvania does not want your business,” O’Callaghan said.

I read this funny quote the other day:

“We had Reagan, Johnny Cash and Bob Hope. Now we have Obama, no cash and no hope.”

I might remind Ms. Callaghan by stating what everyone already knows: Most Democrats and their party leader – “One and Done” Obama – have already succeeded in killing the economy in three short years. The impact of their class-warfare initiatives, job-killing, overregulating, tax-and-spend failed policies have cost every state in the union thousands of jobs and economic growth.

Then again, maybe she has been hiking in the Himalayas for the past three years and had no access to the news. 

I say again to LEGAL immigrants:

Learning English is the key to success in America.

Tim Schultz, director of government relations for U.S. English, a Washington, D.C., organization that advocates for English to be made the official language of the United States, said the bills would lead to more savings for taxpayers than just “the costs of a few government documents.”

“You care about the Pennsylvania high school dropout rate because you know that improving it … saves taxpayer dollars by making people net contributors to the economy,” Schultz said.

“You should care about English learning for the same reason.”

As usual, Democrats, while trying to protect their votes, say the English-only bills are a distraction from more-pressing legislative issues such as creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.

I find it hard to believe Democrats still whistle the tune “the government is the answer.”

The nation has witnessed “the government is the answer” approach by the Democrats and the Obama administration for the past three years, and look at the results.

When will they comprehend that the government does not create jobs, the private sector does?

When will they learn?

I believe they will get another lesson at the ballot box next year.

Thirty-one states have passed legislation designating English as the official language.

Soon it will be 32.

 Robin L. Quillon is the publisher of  The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at

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