Those damn xenophobic racists
Alabama senator proposes English only driver test
The Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state senator who is vice chairman of a panel studying immigration issues in Alabama said Monday he will introduce legislation to require the state driver's license exam be given in English only.
The legislation from Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, would go against the national trend because most states, including Alabama, give the test in multiple languages.
Beason said his legislation would implement a state constitutional amendment that made English the official language in Alabama. He said it also would improve highway safety.
"The road signs, the street signs and direction signs are all in English," said Beason, the vice chairman of Alabama's Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission.
Jesse Hernandez of Hoover, who owns a worker placement firm called the Hispanic Employment Labor Pool, said immigrants understand that English is the language of opportunity. "But you can't learn it in three easy lessons," he said.
Dothan consultant Rich Lopez, who helps businesses market to Hispanics, said the bill isn't needed because undocumented foreign workers aren't getting driver's licenses now from the state Department of Public Safety. In his view, the bill would send the wrong message to legal immigrants moving to Alabama.
"It's just one more act of exclusion," he said Monday.
Alabama currently gives the exam in 14 languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Korean and Japanese.
Melissa Savage, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said 45 states use multiple languages, although in some border and Western states the languages are just English and Spanish. Five states — New Hampshire, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming and Maine — are English only, she said.
The House Republican Caucus met last week to discuss what bills it might push in the legislative session starting Feb. 5, and no one mentioned limiting the driver's test to English only, House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said Monday.
"That's not a Republican Party bill and that's not a House Republican Caucus bill," he said.
Hubbard said the bill seems to conflict with Alabama's efforts to attract foreign manufacturers, like a German steel mill near Mobile.
"I question how wise that is," Hubbard said.
In 1990, Alabama voters overwhelming approved a constitutional amendment saying "English is the official language of the state of Alabama."
After the constitutional amendment passed, the state Department of Public Safety went from giving the driver exam in 14 languages to just one in 1991.
Then in 1998, after being sued by a Spanish-speaking resident, the department returned to having the exam in multiple languages.
Members of ProEnglish, a Virginia-based group that advocates English as the official language, sued the state seeking to return the exam to English only.
In a 5-4 decision in October, the Alabama Supreme Court turned back the group's suit and said it presented no evidence that administering the test in multiple languages diminishes English as Alabama's common language. The Supreme Court, however, noted that the Legislature can enforce the constitutional amendment through appropriate legislation.
Beason said his legislation is the result of that sharply divided court opinion.
K.C. McAlpin, executive director of ProEnglish, said his group advocates the approach proposed by Beason.
"It fulfills the clear intent, spirit and will of the people of Alabama that they want their state government to operate in English as the official language," he said.
Beason announced plans for his English only bill at a news conference where he released results of a nationwide immigration survey done by Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future. Gingrich has supported ProEnglish's efforts to get Congress to declare English the nation's official language.
Last year, Beason sponsored the bill that created Alabama's Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission, which is supposed to report on immigration issues to the Legislature in February. Beason said his driver's license legislation is separate from anything the commission might recommend.
State Rep. Randy Hinshaw, D-Merdianville, sponsored immigration bills that failed to pass last year. He said Monday it will be hard for any immigration bill to pass in the upcoming session if the Senate remains shut down by the stalling tactics that ate up most of the 2007 session.
To these idiots that decry the English only tests, can they answer HOW these immigrants can read road signs in ENGLISH if they can't pass an English-only driving test????
Am I missing the logic here???????
Heh, good point
However, I think I know the answer
the only thing they are concernced
about is the illegals ability to drive
to their jobs that they are not legally
entitled to have inside of the USA.....
(in cars they are not allowed to own)
+ 1 !!!