The question of whether to make English the official language of the United States has been debated by politicians for centuries. Professor Donathan Brown, 2017 and 2018 Fulbright scholar and expert on race and official language policy, works to shed light on the issue. 

As the Latino population continues to grow in this country (since 2004 it has become one of the largest and fastest growing minority groups), the number of Congressional bills introduced to legislate English as the country’s official language climbs as well. There isn’t currently a federal law on the books, but more than 30 states have adopted English as their official language. 

Donathan says that an official language policy is by no means as patriotic as it may appear. 

“It resurrects a dated struggle against immigrants, whether they be German, Latino, or otherwise. Deeply ingrained in these laws are obscure articulations of a rigid, one-way assimilation model, where lawmakers postulate both what it takes to become and what it means to be ‘American.’

“In the past, much like the present, these laws have been attributed to a series of blunders. This has come to include banning the instruction of foreign languages to students below the eighth grade to removing political candidates from the ballot for not knowing ‘enough’ English. Knowing the details of these episodes, I hope, will prevent them from further occurring.”