In a democracy, we expect to see people holding multiple positions on every issue, including Puerto Rico Statehood. We know from decades of polling that most Americans favor statehood for Puerto Rico, just as most Puerto Ricans do. But there is one group that consistently resists siding with the majority: English only activists.
One example is the organization ProEnglish, an outfit that. would like to see the United States declare English the official language. The United States does not have an official language. That’s not an oversight: Congress has chosen repeatedly over the centuries not to limit the language spoken in our magnificently diverse nation. ProEnglish has a different mission:
- Adopting laws or constitutional amendments declaring English the official language of the United States, and of individual states.
- Defending the right of individual states to make English the official language of government operations.
- Ending bilingual education, in favor of English language immersion programs in public schools.
- Repealing federal mandates for the translation of government documents and voting ballots into languages other than English.
- Opposing the admission of territories as states unless they have adopted English as their official language.
Individual states have the right to name their official languages, as Puerto Rico has. English and Spanish are the official languages of Puerto Rico. ProEnglish officially says — in their mission statement,ent, shown above — that they oppose the admission fo territories as states “unless they have adopted English as their official language.” Puerto Rico already has done so.
As a state, Puerto Rico would be one of several states with multiple official languages.
ProEnglish changed their position
Once ProEnglish finally understood this fact, they changed their position. Now ProEnglish Board of Directors Chair Rosalie Porter says that “any legislative attempt by the island to become the 51st state must stipulate that English become its primary official language of the government, courts, and school system.”
A “primary” official language is now the test. “Accepting Puerto Rico as a new state, or any other new classification, without a specific designation of English as the primary official language of the island, would automatically transform the United States into a bilingual nation,” ProEnglish claims. No state with more than one official language designates one as its “primary” official language.
Spanish is already spoken widely throughout the United States. There are more speakers of Spanish in the United States than in Spain. In fact, the U.S.is second only to Mexico in the size of the Spanish-speaking population. Puerto Rico would not be the top Spanish-speaking state, in fact. Texas and California both have more Spanish speakers than Puerto Rico.
ProEnglish is not satisfied with demanding that Puerto Ricans speak English. They want to prevent statehood for the 3 million plus U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico.
“This recent referendum about statehood for Puerto Rico, as well as prior bills regarding statehood for Puerto Rico, all fail to address the vital question about official English on the island,” they say in a recent article at their website.
Since, as ProEnglish knows, states have the right to establish their official languages as they choose, language is no bar to statehood for Puerto Rico. ProEnglish would like it to be. They want to keep Puerto Rico from experiencing justice and equality through statehood. Fortunately, the decision is not up to them. Congress makes the decision on whether to admit Puerto Rico as a state. Tell your representatives that it is time for Puerto Rico statehood.