WASHINGTON—With Republicans proposing measures to make English the official language, President Clinton is backing public support for those who speak another tongue.
“Of course English is the language of the United States,” Clinton told about 1,000 people attending a Congressional Hispanic Caucus dinner Wednesday night. “The issue is whether children who come here, while they are learning English, should also be able to learn other things.”
He also said that older immigrants “who work hard and pay taxes…should be able to vote like other citizens.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has sponsored legislation that would mandate the use of English for most federal communications. A bill introduced by Rep. William Emerson, R-Mo., would exempt documents that protect the public health, crime victims and criminal defendants from the English-only mandate.
Republican presidential candidates, including Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, have endorsed the idea of making English the official language. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., also supports the idea.
But Clinton said America must support its bilingual citizens, especially children. “The issue is whether or not we are going to value the culture, the traditions of everybody and also recognize that we have a solemn obligation, every day in every way, to let these children grow up to the fullest of their God-given capacity,” he said.