Letter: An Assimilation Situation

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The news of the LanguageLine app that will be used by the Nassau County Police can be interpreted in two ways. It is certainly amazing at what computers can do today by highlighting human ingenuity. I am glad it will aid the police officers, but it also points out a serious deficiency that we have allowed in America.

This phone app is a result of not making of assimilation into an English speaking society a priority for all aspects of interaction that one has in daily life for America’s immigrant population. As Teddy Roosevelt so eloquently stated about this essential requirement for a great nation, “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

The lack of commitment to this principle had lead to higher and higher translation and interpretation costs as shown by this $116,000 contract per year now in effect. The fact the Nassau County Police Department is considering it “paid” for by using asset forfeiture funds is an insecure as well as a constitutionally questionable method. According to a recent poll 87 percent of Americans want to make English the official language of the United States. To preserve our incredibly successful society and enhance the opportunities the United States offers to people from all over the world, it is time to make English the official language.

—Chris Wales


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