Published April 29, 2010
As if tension over immigration weren't high enough, Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James just dialed up the volume on the debate with a new ad declaring that, if elected, he will allow the state's driver's license test to be conducted only in English.
The brief ad shows James, son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James, taking issue with the many languages offered to administer the test.
"Why do our politicians make us give driver's license exams in 12 languages? This is Alabama. We speak English," James says. "If you want to live here, learn it. We're only giving that test in English if I'm governor. Maybe it's the businessman in me, but we'll save money and it makes sense."
James pauses, looks down contemplatively, and then gazes up again to ask: "Does it to you?"
The ad comes as national debate rages over the recently signed Arizona law that makes illegal immigration a state crime, and as lawmakers on Capitol Hill argue over whether to tackle comprehensive immigration legislation. James' ad has drawn widespread criticism, but he told supporters this week that he's just being attacked by "lefties," according to The Birmingham News.
Though James described his proposal as a cost-saving idea, any move to administer the test in just English reportedly could put federal transportation dollars to the state at risk based on a prior court ruling examining the issue.