What language do you normally speak? While it may seem like a senseless question, it's not that uncommon for legal citizens to have less than a sufficient ability to interact with those of us who speak English -- as I'm sure you're well-aware of by now.
According to Census figures from 2010, approximately 59 million Americans tend to speak a different language at home. This has resulted in an enormous cost to the taxpayer, where multilingual translations for elected officials have become increasingly common at the local, state, and even federal levels of government.
According to ProEnglish, a leading advocate for the bill, 31 states have enacted an official language law so far, but Congress still needs to pass legislation that would cover the entire nation. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla) aim to change that with the English Language Unity Act, a bipartisan effort to establish an official language.
The act would require all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English, establish a uniform language requirement for naturalization and place an obligation on representatives of the federal government to encourage individuals to learn English.
ProEnglish Executive Director Robert Vandervoort has emphasized the importance of passing it on several occasions, testifying in front of Congress when it was introduced again back in August of last year.
In a March 6 press release, Vandervoot stated:
"Our national unity is undermined by the dangerous and increasing trend of bilingual and multilingual communications from elected government officials [...] Congress must finally emphasize the importance and need for English to be the official language of all government operations."
Continuing, Vandervoort cited a Rasmussen poll from May 2010 showing that 87 percent of likely voters believe English should be the official language of the United States. "In fact," he said. "the poll found over 80 percent of whites, blacks and those of other racial or ethnic backgrounds agree that requiring people to speak English is not a form of racism or bigotry."
According to Govtrack.us, the chances of the bill getting enacted are slim to none. But, with polling numbers like those though, and the amount of money spent to accommodate a myriad of languages, one has to wonder why.