English-only in Lino Lakes

David Roeser’s English-only proposal is both offensive and ineffective.

It is often said that the United States is a nation of immigrants, and Minnesota is no exception. Even a cursory glance at the state’s history will show the role Scandinavians, Germans and other Europeans have played in Minnesota’s history. That glance at the state’s current demographics will show that immigrants — from East Africa, Central America and Asia — continue to shape history and culture for the better.
Despite this, Lino Lakes City Councilman Dave Roeser has proposed an English-only policy. The ordinance would require all government services to be conducted in English. If a non-English speaker asks the city for translation, the cost of it would fall on that non-English speaker. Roeser claims his rationale for the law is purely economic.
But just how much money does this save the city of Lino Lakes? One would hope a considerable sum, considering the cost of the equal protection lawsuits that might ensue if the ordinance is passed.
Yet Roeser himself doesn’t really seem certain about that. When the Star Tribune asked him whether any segment of the city speaks English as a second language, Roeser replied that he’s never looked into it. “It doesn’t matter,” he told the Star Tribune. “It’s about saving money in the future.” For the record — which Roeser apparently didn’t bother to look at before proposing the insulting policy — 95 percent of the city’s residents speak English at home, and translation requests there are rare.
The proposal flies in the face of Minnesota’s rich history of immigration. But it’s even more disturbing that, in the process, the policy would be wholly ineffective and, with the potential lawsuits, possibly counterproductive.