• IDRA Newsletter • January 1996 • 

The resolution below was created in 1987 by a diverse group of about 30 organizations and individuals as they joined together to centralize information on language rights and develop language policy alternatives. They formed the coalition, English Plus Information Clearinghouse, under the sponsorship of the National Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Forum and the Joint National Committee for Languages.

Resolution on English Plus

Whereas, English is and will remain the primary language of the United States, and all members of our society recognize the importance of English to national life, individual accomplishment and personal enrichment; and

Whereas, many U.S. citizens have native languages other than English, including many languages indigenous to this continent, and many members of our society have not had an equal opportunity to learn English; and

Whereas, the ability to communicate in English and other languages has promoted and can further enhance American economic, political and cultural vitality and contribute to our nation’s productivity, worldwide competitiveness, successful international diplomacy and national security; and

Whereas, our fundamental values and national documents ensure tolerance and respect for diversity and guarantee all persons equal protection under the law; and

Whereas, “English only” and other restrictionist language legislation has the potential for abridging the citizen’s right to vote, eroding other civil rights, fostering governmental interference in private activity and free commerce and causing social disunity; and

Whereas, the organizations establishing the English Plus Information Clearinghouse are committed to the principles of democratic and cultural pluralism and encourage respect for the cultural and linguistic heritages of all members of our society;

Be it resolved that:

1. There is a need for a vastly expanded network of facilities for comprehensive English language instruction and services to ensure all persons the ability to exercise the rights and responsibilities of full participation in society.

2. There is a need to foster multiple language skills among all of our people in order to promote our position in the world marketplace and to strengthen the conduct of foreign relations.

3. There is a need to encourage the retention and development of a person’s first language, to build upon the multiple language skills of all members of our society, and to strengthen our commitment to cultural and democratic pluralism.

4. There is a need to retain and strengthen the full range of language assistance policies and programs, including bilingual assistance policies and programs, including bilingual assistance, in order to ensure all members of society an equal opportunity to exercise their rights and responsibilities in regard to the electoral process, education, the legal system, social services and health care.

5. There is a need to reject the objectives and premises of “English only” and promote the concept of “English plus” in order to promote public civility and the fundamental values and objectives of our society.

6. There is a need to defeat any legislative initiative on the federal, state or local level which would mandate English as the official language and thereby restrict the civil rights, civil liberties or equal opportunities of all persons, including persons with limited English proficiency.

7. There is a need for an English Plus Information Clearinghouse to facilitate and enhance the exchange of information, public education, advocacy, effective policies and programs, and cooperation among a wide range of communities, private organizations and public sector entities.

Further information is available from the National Immigration Forum at 202/544-004 or the Joint National Committee for Languages at 202/466-2666.

Comments and questions may be sent via e-mail to feedback@idra.org.

[©1996, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 1996 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]