Transcript: English Only?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 29, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: Should you have to speak English to be an American? If you think English is already the official language of the U.S., you're mistaken. It's not. But a bill introduced in Congress seeks to make it law.

My next guest says, it's long overdue. K.C. McAlpin is executive director of Leslie Sanchez calls this nonsense. She's a former Hispanic adviser for the Bush administration.

OK, K.C., first to you, what do you propose?

K.C. MCALPIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROENGLISH: Well, what we propose is that we pass a law that would let the United States join the vast majority of the other countries of the world that have an official language. And that would designate English as our official language.

ASMAN: Leslie, what is wrong with that?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE FOR HISPANIC AMERICANS: You know, you don't need a law on the books to indicate that you need to speech English in America to succeed. I think it's understand...

ASMAN: When was the last time you were in Miami?


SANCHEZ: There are certain isolated coves in America, no doubt about that. You can go in East L.A. and come out and never have to speak English. But, in reality, it's an issue of communication, not assimilation.

ASMAN: But, Leslie, I got to tell you, there are parts of Miami where you have trouble getting by if you only speak English.

SANCHEZ: No, it's true, undoubtedly.

And there are many misguided programs that were not pursuing English, for example, bilingual education. I think a lot of those children have a disservice placed upon them when they can't get out of those programs and learn English. But the reality is, you don't need something on the books when it comes to communication.

ASMAN: OK. I don't know, K.C., if English as an official language is. How far have you gotten in promoting this?

MCALPIN: Well, there's a bill, as you mentioned, in Congress. It's sponsored by Representative Steve King, who is a Republican. And it has 146 co-sponsors. That puts it in the top 2 percent of all the bills in the House, in terms is of the number of co-sponsors.

And we understand Senator Inhofe, this afternoon, is going to introduce an amendment to the immigration bill that would make English the official language.

So, there's overwhelming support.

That poll that you mentioned said that 84 percent of American voters, including 77 percent of Hispanics, 77 percent of liberals, 82 percent of Democrats, 91 percent of Republicans, all favor making English the official language.

So, there's overwhelming support.

ASMAN: Go ahead, Leslie.

SANCHEZ: No, the reality — we all want to speak English. There is nothing misguided about that.

What the difference is, is this is meant to be a barrier, some sort of rejection, for people that are trying to assimilate. I mean, fundamentally, that tends to be the motivation. Why are we looking at this?

ASMAN: But isn't the onus, Leslie, on them?


ASMAN: If they want to assimilate shouldn't they have to learn English?

SANCHEZ: Sure. Exactly.

But think of how many constituents out there, and voters, that watch this program that are saying, you know, I have folks in my neighborhood that don't speak English. They're making it harder one me. It's an assimilation issue. And that what is I bring it back to.

ASMAN: Leslie, I got to tell you something about assimilation. My wife is a naturalized citizen.

When she went to her swearing-in ceremony to become a U.S. citizen, she was asked to translate the swearing-in ceremony for those people who are about to become citizens. Shouldn't speaking English become a determining factor, a requirement, for citizenship?

SANCHEZ: I agree it should be, 100 percent. You and I are on the same page with that.

But look at the other things. New immigrants are assimilating in one and two generations what it took Eastern European immigrants time to do, inter-marriage, learning the language, calling themselves Americans.

There's a lot of significant progress, in terms of the assimilation, integration. They're not just living in Miami in little coves. They're living in our neighborhoods.

ASMAN: But, K.C., we got Leslie to say she was going to come along, in terms of saying it should be a requirement for citizenship.


ASMAN: Is there room for compromise here?


MCALPIN: Well, I agree with her, also, about bilingual education being a trap for kids that don't speak English. So, we are on the same page on that. But, listen, there's a growing movement in this country to demand services in foreign languages as a civil right. There's even an executive order that President Clinton signed that really creates that.

So, that's the reason we need to designate English as the official language, to make it clear that nobody has an automatic right to government services in another language.

ASMAN: I'm not a matchmaker here, but let me just try to pull you two together.


ASMAN: If you were to accept, K.C., some of what Leslie has to say, she would accept making English a requirement of citizenship. That's not a bad compromise.


MCALPIN: And that's in the bill that is being introduced in Congress...

ASMAN: It's part of it.

MCALPIN: So that's another reason why it's needed. But, look, there's 51 countries in the world that have already made English their official language. Most of them are in Africa and Asia and the Caribbean. There's good, commonsense reasons why 92 percent of the countries of the world have declared an official language of some kind.

SANCHEZ: But, you know, I would say this. There's a lot of reasons for that. And don't forget the 20-plus states that have done it...


MCALPIN: Twenty-seven states.


MCALPIN: Twenty-seven states.


SANCHEZ: I said 20-plus.


SANCHEZ: Twenty-plus states that have done this. You know, it's not something needed on the federal books.

ASMAN: Hey gang, we have run out of time on this one.


ASMAN: Leslie Sanchez, K.C. McAlpin from ProEnglish, we got you two to agree on part of it, anyway.


ASMAN: Thanks very much.

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