I declined the invitation to participate in the Spanish-language Republican presidential debate on Sunday because I do not want to endorse the further Balkanization of American political life…
I do not believe it is proper to appeal to the ‘‘Hispanic vote” or the “Asian vote” or the “Black vote.” I believe we must appeal only for American votes.
Any political debate is aimed at citizens. It is about issues of concern to the entire community, not a segment of the community. It is vital that all political debates and discussions take place in the public square, not in separate enclaves. Our democracy does not need different messages broadcast to different audiences in different languages that are not heard or understood by other groups.
Tancredo also says:
Our children learn in school that all registered voters are either native-born citizens or naturalized citizens, and all applicants for citizenship must pass an English-proficiency test. This test is included in the naturalization exam for a good reason.
Conducting political debates in any language other than English, whether Korean, French, Farsi or Spanish, is telling new immigrants that they need not take that particular requirement for naturalization seriously. The United States has a special need to have a common language because of the very diversity of its immigrants. Our parents and ancestors who were immigrants spoke many different languages on arrival. But they came here to become Americans, and as Americans, we conduct our political affairs in English.
This argument ignores the fact that some native-born citizens don’t speak English. Puerto Ricans are an obvious example, but residents of Los Angeles know that there are many enclaves where people can spend their whole lives living and working while speaking another language.
Whether this is a good thing is an entirely different question.