Alabama Lawmaker Pushing to Make Driver's License Exams 'English Only'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," December 4, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Alabama right now, a push to make driver's license exams English only.

My next guest is introducing legislation that would make it the law. He's Alabama State Senator Scott Beason.

Senator, welcome. It is nice to have you with us.

SCOTT BEASON (R), ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: Terry, thank you. How are you today?

KEENAN: I'm fine.

You know, it brings back memories of my road test, which I barely passed. But it never even occurred to me that you could take the driver's license portion in another language. How many languages can you take it in, in your state?

BEASON: We are up to 14.

KEENAN: All right.

And you — the Supreme Court has upheld that in your state, is that right?

BEASON: That's right.

But one of the opinions from the majority opinion that struck down our — our driver's license law said, the problem was that we had not statutorily enforced the constitutional amendment that the overwhelming majority of the people of Alabama passed just a few years ago.

So, that is what my effort is. We're going to put some — some statutory teeth into the constitutional amendment.

KEENAN: And your — your legislation would make the driver's license exam only in English, not Spanish, and — or any other language; is that correct?

BEASON: Absolutely. And that's just a small part of an overall reform to make sure that all state government procedures are done in English.

KEENAN: Now, some people would say this is a backdoor way to crack down on illegals. But, even if you were a citizen and you didn't speak English, you would be affected; is that correct?

BEASON: Absolutely. It's not just on illegal immigration, even though that is one part.

We would like people to assimilate. If they're going to immigrate into the state of Alabama, we want — want them to do that, of course. But it is also a safety issue. We're in a day and age now where we could have a terrorist attack, a hazardous waste spill somewhere on the interstate, and we put up signs with liquid crystal displays that say, you know, detour here for a certain reason and go this far.

And, if you can't speak or read English, you are going to be in a hazard and you're going to be a hazard to other people also.

KEENAN: So, you are saying this is a technology thing; now that you signs that you actually have to read and not just know the shapes of, you really should know the language?

BEASON: Absolutely.

KEENAN: What are the chances for passage, do you think?

BEASON: I think they're very good.

The overwhelming majority of the people in the state want us to do English-only. Like I said, it was passed as a constitutional amendment years back. And it passed overwhelmingly. And I believe it has got bipartisan support. And I think it will happen this spring.

KEENAN: You know, though, a lot of people say this hampers people's ability to make a living, especially if they are legal citizens.

BEASON: I just think they are wrong. I think they have their own agendas and they're — they are not really thinking about the long-term health of the country. And we're looking out for the people of Alabama.

KEENAN: OK. Well, we're going to continue to follow your fight and see if it makes law in state.

Thanks for joining us.

BEASON: Well, thank you, Terry.


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