Over the past year or so, we have witnessed a slew of discriminatory laws coming from Arizona. Ranging from forcing local police to act as immigration enforcement to denying deferred action recipients the benefits given to them through federal actions, these bills all have three things in common: They are inherently discriminatory, they make life harder for those living in Arizona, and they waste precious government resources at a time when are economy is already hurting.
Legislature introduced and backed by Arizona State Rep. Steve Smith (R) continues this trend of bad policy-making. Arizona’s “English Only” law is a piece of legislature that would prohibit mailing government documents in languages other than English — a mandate that critics say would violate the Civil Rights Act which states government cannot discriminate against its non-English speaking population. There are currently nearly 600,000 people living in Arizona who speak only limited English.
But aside from going contrary to current civil rights laws, this proposed legislature (and others like it that have emerged in Arizona in the past) fails Arizonans in several ways.
Proponents of the bill say that it will cut government spending because it removed the printing of government documents in any language but English This is utterly ridiculous. What they fail to explain is that the bill would not cut down on the printing or mailing of government resources, it would merely stop the production of documents in Spanish and replace them with documents in English.
So now people who previously received mail from the government in a language they understood, would in the future be receiving these documents in English – a transition that would spell trouble for the full 9% of Arizona’s population that speaks limited English That increases the waist factor on these documents by 9% – something we cannot afford in this economy.
In addition to adding to government waist, this proposed legislation would also discriminate against the people of Arizona. If the legislation does not improve efficiency or have significant societal benefits, why propose it? It is merely a slap in the face of Latinos that lawmakers claim to be courting. It makes life harder for Spanish-speaking citizens living in Arizona, who already have to deal with a slew of anti-immigrant and anti-Latino measures that have been passed in the past few years.
Finally, lets make the analogy of Arizona to a business. Do you know what happens to a business that makes life hard for its customers? Its customers move on. Arizona lawmakers should take that into consideration before alienating a tenth of their population.
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