‘English-only’ sends the wrong message

Proposed bill would limit access to education and health care.

According to an article in the Feb. 8 issue of the Minnesota Daily âÄî “English-only bill proposed in Minn.” âÄî the state Senate proposed a bill to make English the official language of Minnesota. If it passes, the state will not be required to provide interpreter services in settings such as health care. Supposedly this will cut costs, but it will do so by blatantly discriminating against immigrants and denying them the services they require.

Even if non-English speakers are learning English, interpreter services are still beneficial to ensure they receive the appropriate care until they learn to communicate confidently. Immigrants âÄî legal and illegal âÄî will be paying taxes for services they will be unable to take advantage of, such as health care. While health care is available, many immigrants would be dissuaded from obtaining it because of the language barrier.

Although cutting interpreter services might decrease short-term costs, overall costs will increase as immigrants wait until the last minute to get medical attention because they feel uncomfortable in an English-only environment.

Furthermore, immigrants will be barred from education at public institutions. This is obviously discrimination. Simply because English is not a personâÄôs first language does not mean they should be denied the educational opportunities available to all.

In addition, the bill does not provide additional funding for English education. How can we expect immigrants to learn English without any interpreter services or English education? This bill sends the message that immigrants are not welcome in Minnesota.

We need to realize the U.S. is not a heterogeneous nation conforming to the same culture. Instead of dissuading immigrants from coming to Minnesota, we should embrace the diversity they bring to our state.