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Council members want to REPEAL ‘English only’ law because it’s ‘unwelcoming’; public debate heats up

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Jessica FitzwaterLeaders in a Maryland county are under fire from both sides as they decide whether to repeal an English only rule.

In a meeting that was open to the public, Frederick County officials met Tuesday  to debate the merits of repealing the 2012 law that states all official county business must be conducted in English.

Some newly elected councilmembers want the law repealed because, somehow, having an English only rule for official business in an English speaking country is “unwelcoming.”

“It’s becoming increasingly harder to attract businesses and employers to Frederick County when they have this perception that we’re not welcoming or we’re only welcoming if English is your first language,” Councilmember Jessica Fitzwater told CBS Baltimore. “It simply is repealing this negative perception.”

The population in Frederick, according to 2010 census data, is 5.8 percent Asian American and 14.4 percent Hispanic or Latino. The Hispanic group is the fastest growing in the city and county.

Some residents agree with the councilmembers.

“It’s a wrong message. You might as well post a sign that says non-English speaking people are not welcome here,” Ray Garza told CBS Baltimore. “Why are we doing this?”

“It makes us look intolerant, unwelcoming and petty,” added resident Barbara Gordon.

The repeal is, however, meeting with some opposition as well.  Advocacy group ProEnglish  has mailed fundraising letters calling the sponsors of the repeal “liberal multiculturists” and “politically correct bullies.” Many in Frederick agree with the group that says an immigrant’s road to success in this country depends on learning to speak English.

“We need to speak English as a first language and then what you do in your own home is your own business,” one woman told CBS Baltimore.

“I think it should be English only,” said another.

The council will vote on the repeal on August 18.

Carmine Sabia


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