Despite change to bill, English-only still matters

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 11:45pm
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A visibly flustered Hedy Weinberg — head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee — walked into room LP12, beneath Legislative Plaza, at 12:55 p.m. on Wednesday.

It was less than an hour before the English-only driver’s license bill would go up for its final Senate committee vote, one of the last obstacles it was to face before it passed the Senate on Thursday.

Weinberg and Remziya Suleyman, policy advisor for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, sat to the left of the aisle, facing Memphis Democratic Sen. Jim Kyle. To the right, in the front row, local ProEnglish mouthpiece Eddie Garcia was chatting with Murfreesboro Republican Sen. Bill Ketron, the bill’s Senate sponsor (Rep. Eric Watson, Republican of Cleveland, is the House sponsor).

It was like a wedding where the theme was unsubtle political metaphors.

“I just want this thing to go away,” Weinberg said.

The addition of a “business-friendly” amendment to the English-only driver’s license bill — which is just what it sounds like — renders it “meaningless,” or so goes the analysis. And the fact that both sides of the English-only debate believe it renders the law essentially impotent has, it seems, greased the bill’s progress through the legislature.

That’s all fine. Proponents of the bill may have an easier time getting it passed, scoring a victory for English lovers across the state. Opponents, particularly left-wing legislators and statewide chambers of commerce, get to say that they’ve compromised the bill into oblivion. Everyone wins.

Except it does appear to mean something.

The amendment uses the following language to create an exemption to what used to be an across-the-board English-only requirement: “For persons whose presence in the United States has been approved and authorized by the United States Department of Homeland Security for a specific purpose, including investing, overseeing investment, or providing needed services to companies or businesses in Tennessee, and for a specified period of authorized stay, such examinations may also be administered in such languages as may be determined by the Department of Safety with assistance from the Department of Economic and Community Development.”

According to Ketron, that may very well mean that the Tennessee Department of Safety will still be required to offer the driver’s license knowledge test in the languages it already does —Spanish, Japanese, Korean and German — to anyone with a temporary visa. Theoretically that’s how it works now, since undocumented immigrants can’t get licenses, the result of a 2003 bill Ketron also sponsored.

Unless, that is, you belong to a major non-English-speaking group that doesn’t need a visa, like, say, someone from a Spanish-speaking U.S. territory, said Suleyman in an interview following the meeting.

“What if you’re a Puerto Rican resident who comes to the United States?” she said. “You don’t speak English and you’d like to take the test in Spanish, but can you? You don’t technically have DHS approval.”

The amendment is designed in such a way that only exempts people carrying visas rather than green cards or even U.S. birth certificates.

“The language they used in that amendment to describe who would be eligible for these tests, it comes from another part of state code that deals with who would be eligible for a temporary license,” Suleyman said. “It doesn’t in any way address permanent residents who will need full driver’s licenses or, for that matter, U.S. citizens.”

Suleyman finally takes issue with the language that specifies a purpose as grounds for qualification. That, taken with the final nine words, dictating “assistance from the Department of Economic and Community Development,” would exclude individuals and entire groups not deemed to be significantly contributing to the economy.

“If someone, a foreign businessman, brings his wife here, will she be allowed to take the test in her own language? Probably not. Her visa would be much different than her husband’s,” she said. “This also looks like it gives ECD the power to choose which languages may be added to this exception in the future based on which groups bring in the most big business. Nashville has a large Kurdish population, but since they’re not significant enough economic contributors, Arabic wouldn’t be added to the languages we offer.”

Even when questioned after the meeting, Ketron wouldn’t say definitively whether those groups would be adversely affected by the law. Garcia, on the other hand, was quite sure.

“It’s a compromise,” said Garcia. “The key word is temporary versus permanent. If you’re coming here temporarily, you’re probably going to drive. And you’re going to run across some road signs that you might not be able to read. But the real safety issue is with people who are here permanently. Those are the people this legislation addresses. It was a necessary compromise. But if I was a state legislator, I’d eliminate it completely, make it all English-only.”

Lack of accessibility for some might pose a further challenge for the Department of Transportation if the law is found to violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which demands that, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

According to budget documents, the safety department received more than $9 million in regular federal funding last year. In 2005, the state attorney general’s office released an opinion on a similar law stating that the agency could be vulnerable to losing part or all of its federal dollars if the state were to enact such a law.

Of course, the ramifications go beyond immediate practical concerns.

The list

“It comes up every legislative session, and each session the legislature has come to the conclusion that it would not be a wise way to move,” Weinberg said. “Unfortunately, this year is different.”

It’s not even arguably the most important immigrant rights issue in the state. Nashville has been a 287(g) community for three years, essentially deputizing the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office as an arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last year, the program expanded to allow local officers to screen suspected illegal aliens after an arrest for any crime, rather than after a conviction of a felony, as the original program allowed. State lawmakers have sponsored bills (unsuccessfully) to have the program expanded statewide despite criticism from civil rights groups and the Department of Homeland Security that the program is poorly managed, resulting in the arrest and deportation of many more minor than major offenders.

The current legislation is the second English-only bill the General Assembly has considered this year. The first, less controversial bill, which allows businesses to require their employees to speak English while working but not during breaks or while having casual conversations, passed the House 80-14 last month. Last year’s license bill passed the Senate 23-8 but never made it out of the Transportation Committee in the House. As of this writing, it has passed that committee but is awaiting a vote in the Budget Subcommittee of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

What makes it striking is the timing and the context of last week’s 8-3 vote. Last month Arizona passed the harshest and most controversial anti-illegal immigrant law in the country. The law allows police officers to search anyone they believe may be an illegal immigrant. Critics have argued that the law can’t help but encourage racial profiling, and some have gone so far as to compare it to Apartheid.

It’s in that context that the state legislature may soon pass a law that, as it was presented, wouldn’t even accomplish any changes in the way that written license tests are given, but is simply there to “send a message” about what being an American should mean, as Ketron puts it.

“People have called me names like being a xenophobe or anti-American and etcetera, and we should be more welcoming. But to me, this is about sovereignty,” he said. “They can attempt to become an American citizen without attempting to turn our country into the country that you came from. I respect your traditions and your heritage. My heritage is German, but I’m American.”

To Kyle, though, as well as many of the business leaders represented by the state’s major chambers of commerce, it’s the wrong message.

“This puts us in a column of states that have these English-only license laws,” said Kyle.
“I don’t want to be on that list.”

Asked by committee members which other states are already on that list, Ketron could only name one: Oklahoma. He mentioned that similar legislation is being considered in Georgia and Alabama but has not yet passed. Finally, after thinking about it for a moment, he smiled pointedly, looked at Kyle and said, “Arizona’s on there.”

In a phone interview following the meeting, Ketrow acknowledged that he was signaling his interest in the Arizona law.

“Until what had occurred this last week in Arizona, I was asked if this was my re-election bill. I said, no, I’ve carried this bill every year for the last three years,” Ketron said. “I’ve carried more illegal immigration bills than anybody else.”

He concedes that this type of legislation does draw positive attention from some of his most vocal constituents. And he suggests that the legislature may see further movement in this direction.

“From the emails that I’ve been receiving this week, people have indicated overwhelming interest in doing what Arizona has done,” he said. Asked whether he plans to introduce similar legislation next year, he said, “We’ll see come January.”

The politics

Eddie Garcia is probably the best man for his job. Clearly he likes to talk. Actually he likes to make booming declarations, but in a way that gives the impression that he’s making them on your behalf. He speaks with equal passion to legislators, reporters and the state troopers at the Capitol who happen to pass into his field of vision. The topics: his childhood in a new country, immigrant communities’ need to learn English “for survival,” and the silly wastefulness of government documents written and printed in more than one language.

Add to that his back-story. He came to the United States from Cuba when he was 3 years old. His parents didn’t speak any English. In his utterly expectable expectedness, he is, perhaps, a bit too perfect a spokesman for ProEnglish, the Virginia-based English-only group that last year accounted for the bulk of the financing for Nashville’s failed English-only campaign. So maybe he’s just perfect enough for politicians.

“I’m an immigrant. Yeah, this country is the greatest country in the world. They embraced my parents when we came here in the ’70s,” he said. “But yeah, I do believe there’s a reciprocation, an obligation to assimilate.”

Garcia, as principal of local PR firm EVG Consulting (a Metro Nashville-certified minority-owned business), now has the responsibility of pitching English-only to a group of legislators who must be aware that his client’s founder, John Tanton, a Michigan doctor, has been identified as “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Tanton also founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“I didn’t know who Eddie Garcia was until just last month. And I’ve never been contacted by ProEnglish,” Ketron said. “I don’t even know who those folks are. I’ve heard of their name and some things they’re doing in other states … [Garcia] came up and introduced himself in the hall. He said he was a U.S. citizen and he had an interest in the bill that I was carrying. I have had this bill for the last three years in the Senate.”

Garcia, for his part, characterizes the hate group charges as a smear campaign.

“Do your research on the Southern Poverty Law Center. They are not clean,” he said. “All they are is a fundraising scheme.”

There may be some merit to that, of course. Journalists like Ken Silverstein (in his 2000 Harper’s piece “The Church of Morris Dees”) and ratings groups like the Better Business Bureau have taken the SPLC to task a number of times for high administrative costs and over-fundraising.

But that doesn’t change some of the things Tanton has said on the record. In a 1996 letter to a colleague, he is quoted as asking “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California (85 percent of the lower-grade school children are now ‘minorities’ — demography is destiny) can run an advanced society?” Or this sentence, from a 1997 article in the Detroit Free Press: “ ‘If immigration continues at current levels, the Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will approach 400 million by mid-century — with millions of extra people defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs,’ as Tanton put it.”

Remziya Suleyman wonders whether the charges against Tanton would matter to local supporters of English-only bills.

“ProEnglish has a lot of people on its mailing list in Tennessee,” she said. “You have to start thinking that people just want these sorts of laws, and it doesn’t bother them to be connected to a hate group.”

20 Comments on this post:

By: budlight on 5/3/10 at 6:53

Remziya Suleyman wonders whether the charges against Tanton would matter to local supporters of English-only bills. “ProEnglish has a lot of people on its mailing list in Tennessee,” she said. “You have to start thinking that people just want these sorts of laws, and it doesn’t bother them to be connected to a hate group

Ms. Suleyman, here is what I wonder: How can you deny the fact that over this past 48 hours we have had an emergency of magnanamous proportion. A tragic event. During evacuations, the media reported one group of people as having difficulty getting properly evacuated due to "language barriers" - ie, they didn't speak English and since there was no interpretor just standing on their doorstep, evacuations were made MORE DIFFICULT.

Speaking English in an English speaking country is a safety issue, not a "hate issue". You are a complete idiot if you think that people like me, who wish to have safety first, are haters. YOu are the hater. YOu hate it because you can't admit you are wrong.

So, teach these non-english speaking people some basic safety language IN ENGLISH. Because there are too many different immigrants (legal or otherwise) with too many different languages to make it safe for them -- and for us, the normal English speaking citizens.

By: tndan on 5/3/10 at 7:47

If your Puerto Rican your from a province not a state. So when you come into the United States you need to know the language! When I go to Egypt or Armenia they don't translate for me I'm expected to Cary a translation book or have an interpreter. Why must we cater to every language and spend that money. Driving is a privilege not a right so to obtain that privilege you must know English. Are we going to change our road signs to other languages so they can follow directions? No i don't thinks so. Therefore, they should know English in order to follow our road rules and operate a vehicle safely.

By: rkeefe57 on 5/3/10 at 9:21

As Ms. Suleyman is well aware, there is no legal definition for the term "hate group." Even the FBI doesn't track "hate groups" for that reason. The SPLC's public relations guru, Mark Potok, has admitted as much:

"Mark Potok: The FBI does not monitor groups just because they have "hateful" ideology. There must be some evidence of criminal wrongdoing. These rules go back to the 1970s, when the FBI monitored all kinds of left-wing groups."

As Mr. Garcia points out, fund-raising groups like the SPLC hide behind the smear "hate group" because it allows them to denigrate their perceived opponents without incurring the inevitable libel charges that would otherwise follow.

Professional reporters and legitimate news outlets should omit this spurious and deliberately misleading term from their reporting.

Despite Ms. Suleyman's "wondering," there ARE NO CHARGES against Mr. Tanton, FAIR or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Offending the Left is not a crime... yet

As the article alludes, the Better Business Bureau recently renewed FAIR's charity accreditation, once again, while denying the SPLC the same, once again, "due to a lack of commitment to transparency."

Most people don't realize that SPLC founder Mo Dees was a highly paid Klan lawyer in the 60s, according to his own autobiography.

What's more, despite branding itself as a "major civil rights organization," headquartered in Montgomery, Ala, cradle of the American Civil Rights Movement, and literally around the corner from Dr. King's home church... NOT ONE of the SPLC's top ten, highest paid officers is a minority.

The last remaining "Whites Only" sign in Montgomery hangs in the board room of the SPLC.

According to its own accountants, the SPLC now has just under $190 MILLION donor-dollars on hand in its "Endowment Fund". All of that money came from milking the "hate group" cash cow.

Some "experts"

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 9:43

Well, I am surprised that the article is a fair depiction and a thanks for Mr. Maldonado for being an ethical and fair journalist.

Basically, the points are well covered.

The legislation will advance despite a few legislator's ambivalence or desire to accommodate immigrants or pandering for votes.

In a time when budgets are being depleted, teachers are being let go, troopers are in danger because of a poor communications system, the arts, music and physical education classes are cut or eliminated, the state of TN wants to continue funding multiple language exams for the driver's license out of complacency or the"fear" of appearing unfriendly or being put on an "unfriendly" state list.

When the legislation is in effect in nine states and currently advancing in three legislatures and advances through the TN legislature with bipartisan support, there can be no room for "wishy-washy", weakly-supported comments or innuendos.

For the record, there has been no challenge by the federal government to any of the states with the legislation enacted. There are no court cases at any level to dilute, diminish or take away the full-effect of the law when it comes to administering the license exam in English.

The issue of making our roads safer and ensuring motorists can communicate with each other and emergency personnel supersedes any and all notions of "wanting" to appear friendly.

The friendly aspect is thrown out the window when a family member or friend lays in a hospital emergency room because another motorist couldn't understand an English written road safety, warning or regulatory sign.

I am elated that this reporter correctly disclosed the questionable organization that purports to be a civil rights advocate when according to other journalists and the American Institute of Philanthropy they are a wealthy, one-sided, selfish and continuously "begging" for money entity.

The crux of the legislation will not fade away simply because current legislators want to pander for votes or enable immigrants "under the guise" of being friendly. If for valid reasons, the bill doesn't pass this year, it will return stronger, it will return with vigor to make the essential point that the safety of those on the roads is paramount, the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars requires scrutiny and that immigrants must be encouraged to learn English in order to have a fighting chance to succeed in the U.S.

There also the possibility that I would entertain running for office to ensure that the ball is picked up and the sufficient amount of emphasis, fortitude and (as Maldonado states) "Maybe he's (Garcia) just perfect for politicians."

To be continued:

Eddie Garcia

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 10:06

Talk about hate, racism or bigotry--Well, because I stand up for what I believe in and to speak up for the country that embraced my parents and I, I am being called or labeled as a "hater", anti-immigrant, traitor and of late--a redneck lover.

In case you are visually impaired, I am a Latino but I am an American first.

I am proud to say that many of my best and closest friends are black, yellow, brown and yes--rednecks.

So to those who continue to use rhetoric and baseless arguments in your effort to deflect the truth about this bill, continue with your tirade and "smear-laden" campaign.

Americans have endured those types of campaigns since the founding fathers of this great country. Despite being sympathetic, generous and "giving", Americans will eventually see through the mask and will support legislation making our roads safer, stop wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars and sternly encourage all who want to come to the United States of America to learn English.

Eddie Garcia

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 10:22

This will sound strange to some and acceptable to many.

As the reporter correctly wrote, I am an immigrant. An immigrant whose parents knew right away that two things needed to happen immediately after arriving in our new country.

(1) My parents needed to find meaningful employment. My father worked two jobs and sometimes a third. My mother worked two jobs. For as long as I can remember, my parents either walked to and from their jobs or asked friends for rides or used public transportation regardless of how scarce the routes were in and our of our immediate neighborhood.

My parents were and are proud to say that they never expected any entitlement or hand-out from the US government. The little we had came from their hard-work, tears, blood and sweat. That is the American reality!

(2) My parents didn't wait to arrive in the US to know that English (not Spanish or Italian) was spoken. They immediately began to absorb all that was English in our Boston suburb. They knew that for me to learn English would come much easier and saved up money to purchase a black and white TV set for me to watch Sesame Street, the Electric Company, etc.

Within time, I learned English well enough to be their translator and their teacher.

So it infuriates me to hear, read and know that other immigrants who undoubtedly come to my country for similar reasons come with an expectation they are entitled to services, money, or anything else that they can and should create for themselves.

So when I say that I am not anti-immigrant it evoked exactly that. Come to my country for freedom, for prosperity and for a better life. But don't come here if you are not willing to sacrifice and generations of previous immigrants endured long days, difficult times and nights of crying being away from their motherland.

If you aren't willing to do that, then I say stay in your own country.

If you want to call me anti-immigrant, a hater a racist for that--the by all means--say whatever makes you feel better or justifies your position. After all, it is the United States of America and we are free to say what we want. I just say that you say it in English so I can properly respond.

Eddie Garcia

By: Maniacal on 5/3/10 at 11:40

Ok, bottom line - I am an immigrant to this country and now proud to be a citizen. There is an old saying; "when in Rome, do as the Romans".

So I follow American Laws, Customs, Cultrue and Language. It is NOT for me to impose MYSELF on YOU. I have to adapt and become part of the Culture!!

SO - as a new citizen I also want to say this. I am sick to death of these left wing spineless "do good" gits who seem set on sinking the American culture. Now that I have a vote it will not be wasted on people who do not value this way of life.

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 1:41

In 1994, the Advertiser published a nine-part series that pulled back the veil on the Southern Poverty Law Center and its charismatic leader, Morris Dees. In the series, which drew not only from the experiences of former staffers disillusioned by their time at the center but also from attorneys who had worked with Dees, he was described with such terms as phony, egotistical, ruthless, petty, and amoral. He was portrayed as a man motivated primarily by self-aggrandizement, “who carefully grooms his image to appeal to generous donors.”76

The paper revealed that:

The SPLC had moved away from its early work in such poverty law fields as death-penalty cases, employment rights, and voting rights because Dees had learned that he could take in more money by exaggerating the size and menace of the Klan. An editorial that accompanied the series said that while the Klan “deserves the scorn of all reasonable people,” it had become “a farce” and that center critics were justified in saying that it “focuses on the anti-Klan theme not because the Klan is a major threat, but because it plays well with liberal donors.”77 “The market is still wide open for the product, which is black pain and white guilt,” said one of the SPLC’s disillusioned former attorneys, a black woman.78

Black attorneys who had worked at the center complained of systematic discrimination against them at the center. Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree said: “My students have come back with disappointing experiences…. It’s particularly disappointing to encounter racism at a civil rights organization.”79

The SPLC raised huge amounts of money from fundraising campaigns that described urgent needs but used much of the money to pile up an enormous endowment and pay handsome salaries to its top executives.

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 1:44

The SPLC’s tactics reflect Dees’ appreciation for the monetary magnetism of ideological intensity. He learned about it as he raised money for the presidential campaigns of George McGovern, Gary Hart, Jimmy Carter, and Ted Kennedy. In 1988, Dees told The Progressive magazine he had hesitated before agreeing to become finance director for Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign because he thought Carter’s moderation would be unattractive to direct mail donors:

"You can’t raise money through the mail for just any candidate,” said Dees. “You’ve got to have a candidate who’s way out on the extremes — a Reagan, a Wallace, a McGovern, a Goldwater. The people who will give big money through the mail are either on the Far Right or the Far Left. They’re true believers. You can’t fire them up with a middle-of-the-road cause or candidate. You’ve got to have someone who can arouse people.”84

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 1:50

The series also showed that Dees was a relentless self-promoter who tolerated no dissent from center staff. Meanwhile, the board of directors consisted of handpicked cronies ready to rubber-stamp his decisions. A former staff attorney who had worked at other non-profits called it “the least independent board of directors I’ve ever seen.”81

Former business partner Millard Fuller said of Dees: “He does not know how to treat people. He leaves a trail of bodies behind him, of broken relationships. It’s just how he treats people.”82

That trail now includes four ex-wives. In 1979, one of them filed divorce-court documents alleging in explicit detail that Dees conducted lurid affairs during their marriage. Dees complained that he was the victim of a vicious and reckless campaign, charging that his second wife had:

engaged in numerous evidentiary forays that can be described as old fashioned “cheap shots.” Her strategy was to accuse the husband of every inflammatory act she could imagine, hoping that it would prejudice the court. Her approach was to present a bald-faced allegation and then let the husband try to disprove the charges. The accusations are very similar to the old unanswerable cliché, “When did you stop beating your wife?”83

If the Immigration Coalition uses this so-called civil rights organization to fuel their own objectives and goals, shame on the coalition.

The MILLIONS of dollars sucked in by the SPLc for its existence and paying six-digit executive salaries should be better and more efficiently used to represent those in need of a voice. For example, the homeless also is comprised of immigrants. So the immigrant coalition should demand that the splc fund a program to represent the homeless who are being beaten and killed.

By: budlight on 5/3/10 at 1:53

By: Maniacal on 5/3/10 at 12:40
Ok, bottom line - I am an immigrant to this country and now proud to be a citizen. There is an old saying; "when in Rome, do as the Romans".

So I follow American Laws, Customs, Cultrue and Language. It is NOT for me to impose MYSELF on YOU. I have to adapt and become part of the Culture!!

Regardless of how long you've been here Maniacal, welcome. Your attitude is fresh and healthy. Hope you can spread that good news around.

Adapt and be part of the Culture! Profound statement. Now if the leftie hate groups could only do that.

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 1:57

If Ms Suleyman wants to interject rhetoric and fuel a hate campaign, shame on you.

If protecting my borders against illegal immigration elevates me to be considered to hate those illegally coming into my country, then you are fueling a fire with inciteful remarks.

If standing up against people who would rather fly their own flag versus honoring the flag of my country, then shame on you for creating a hostile environment.

If spending your money on lobbyists and operations to kill legislation that will encourage safety on our roads, put taxpayer dollars back into the treasury and encourage immigrants to learn English is how you'd rather spend your contributions, shame on you.

If you choose not to encourage the various chambers of commerce in TN to examine, fund and implement the English Works programs that the Santa Ana, CA chamber rolled out, then shame on you.

Eddie Garcia

By: Donna Locke on 5/3/10 at 2:23

Speaking of the Southern Poverty Law Center and its many deceptions, this video featuring Carol Swain -- and the second part of the video, posted on CIS's site -- are worth watching:

Our Tennessee news media regurgitate the Tanton red herrings without fail but never get around to mentioning the anti-American statements and goals of many of the folks opposing enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Many of these folks hold political offices, teach in our universities, run "connection" services for illegal aliens, and show up as lobbyists in our legislatures. They have an agenda. For example:

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 2:26

Donna, thanks for that fantastic post. I have placed the links on my FACEBOOK page.

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 4:08

In a day or so, I will have completed compiling the list of TN legislators who have expressed to me that they will not, can not or should not support Rep. Eric Watson's HB 262 because these legislators--elected by American citizens--don't want to appear unfriendly to immigrants who have chosen to live in TN and refuse to roll up their sleeves to learn English for their success in our country but more importantly because these immigrants think the driver's license exam shall be interpreted, translated or given to them in their native language.

Join my FACEBOOK page to learn of these legislators and then contact them to tell them SUPPORT HB 262 or go back to their day jobs.

Do you want to risk that this sort of motorist cannot understand an English written road sign and endanger you, your children, your family?

Do you want to roll up to this sort of motorist whose help you may need and they cannot assist you because they cannot speak English?

Do you want to continue funding "with your hard-earned" dollars the operation of providing the examination for the driver's license in multiple languages because "it is easier" for immigrants whom want to live in our state?

How much more of our country must we prostitute to benefit those from other countries so eager to become Americans? To siphon the services we provide? To siphon dollars that should benefit first and foremost AMERICAN citizens?

If you want to come to the United States of America and live here permanently, earn that privilege by doing whatever it takes to learn English.

To Immigrants:
Go to your church, reach out to friends, co-workers, get to the Internet at the local library, CALL and URGE your chamber of commerce leaders to fund and offer English as Second Language classes.

Go and contact the Catholic Charities, that so quickly and eagerly ships immigrants by the hundreds for a better life, but basically drops them off at the state border with a bagged-lunch, a 32-oz soda and a bus pass but NO effective means to learn English.

I am tired of politicians squirming their way in and out of being held accountable and continue to draw a tax-supported income and the opportunity to affect the lives of American citizens.

Eddie Garcia

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/3/10 at 4:40

Oath of Office. The Tennessee Constitution, Article X, Section 1, provides that every person chosen to any office of trust must take an oath to “support the Constitution of this state and of the United States, and an oath of office.” The following is the statutory oath of office to be taken by county officials combining the Constitutional oath with the statutory oath of office:

I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of this state and of the United States, and that I will perform with fidelity the duties of the office to which I have been appointed, and which I am about to assume.

These are the "elected" lawmakers who have chosen to ignore the mandate of them being elected by Americans and rather succumb to immigrant groups and the ill-fated instruction to:

1. Make the driver's exam easier by offering it in multiple languages other than sticking to the English language;

2. Continue using taxpayer dollars to fund this cancerous operation while state employees lose their jobs or forcibly accept a pay cut, public school teachers lose their jobs and the arts, music and physical education classes are cut,

3. TN Highway Patrol officers are in danger and not just from criminals but because the communications system they so heavily rely on for safety and connection with the command center is one of the worst in our country. But these lawmakers insist to continue allocating tax dollars to the multiple languages to appease foreigners than take care of the TN Highway Patrol

These legislators have EITHER told me they CANNOT VOTE FOR the bill or have NOT given a YES supporting reply. To me, their SILENCE tells me they DO NOT support the bill and warrants you to contact them.

ALL TEL NUMBERS ARE ARE PRECEDED WITH (615) 741-XXXX (plug in the last four digits)
State House:

Rep. Ben West-D, Nashville, 6959
Rep. Judy Barker-D, Union City, 0718
Rep. Mike Turner-D, Nashville, 3229 (Firefighter)
Rep, Jimmy Naifeh-D, Covington, 3774
Rep. Vince Dean- D, Chattnooga, 1934
Rep. Phillip Johnson-R, Pegram, 7477
Rep. Gary Moore-D, Nashville, 4317 (Firefighter)
Rep. Gary Odom-D, Nashville, 4410
Rep. Charles Sargent-R, Franklin, 6808

State Senate:

Sen. Tim Barnes-D, Clarksville, 2374
Sen. Jim Kyle-D, Memphis, 4167
Sen. Douglas Henry-D, Nashville, 3291
Sen. Joe Haynes-D, Goodlettesville, 6679
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Blountville, 4524 **RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR**
Sen. Roy Herron-D, Dresden, 4576
Sen. Brian Kelsey-R, Germantown, 3036

If the House or Senate member isn't listed, it's because they have NOT responded to numerous emails wherein I asked them what their position on the bill is exactly. To me, to be an elected official, there is no ROOM or EXCUSE to be ambivalent.

Eddie Garcia

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/4/10 at 1:32

Members of the TN General Assembly,

I may not get a chance to speak at a committee hearing unless the opposition is given their shot at speaking. So in the interest of sharing pertinent examples of why learning English is important and if requiring the driver's license exam to be administered in English can save a life not only on our roads but in EVERYDAY life, then society will greatly benefit and you as legislators have done good!

During the last two days, we all know the havoc the rains and flooding has done to every one residing in the Greater Nashville area if not our entire state. Just as cancer and other diseases don't discriminate, neither does Mother Nature.

Throughout the day yesterday, I committed my tour bus along with friends and band mates to distribute the free water that Harris Teeter was giving out to flood victims. Some roads were impassable but we managed to stand the tour bus as a refuge point and people were able to walk over for water bottles.

I witnessed disaster, pains, tears, loss of life (in one case) and loss of property. As sympathetic as I can be, I cannot help but remember a situation that occurred in an area of south of Nashville proper. Since I am fluent in Spanish, I can clearly and intelligibly understand the conversation that took place between a woman and a man of Hispanic ethnicity.

In the middle of all the havoc, the two were talking about (and actually) perturbed that among the emergency personnel present none spoke Spanish. In one instance, another man was complaining but I couldn't understand what he was saying as to me it sounded like a Middle Eastern language.

I was aghast that despite all the emergency personnel and civilians risking their lives to help those in need, these ungrateful Hispanic people were so callous that their concern was that no one was present who spoke Spanish.

Going against the wishes of my band mates, I waded through a foot of water over to them and in Spanish asked them what in the world were they talking about. Immediately, the woman gleamed and said (in Spanish), "Oh, you speak Spanish, thank God!"

My response was to address their coldness, rudeness and disregard to the numbers of people --English speaking people -- there to provide help. I asked the woman why it was she didn't speak English and how long had she been in the United States. She replied, "Four and one-half years and that she didn't have time to learn English."

I won't type what my response was but will let your imagination draw that conclusion.

I feel -- STRONGLY FEEL -- that if these people had taken the effort and time to learn English, learn it proficiently/adequately enough to help themselves, help to communicate with the many who were there to offer their assistance at their own risk, these Hispanics would not feel so helpless, so alienated, so in fear.

Clearly, logic and reason doesn't seem to deliver the message that learning English benefits immigrants in so many ways, so if passing the driver's license legislation requiring a proficient level of English be secured by all who wish to drive on our roads, then emergency personnel who risked their lives in the past two days would NOT have had such a difficult and strenuous time providing assistance and the anguish of yesterday these Hispanics were experiencing would have been greatly alleviated because they could have communicated in English.

Please do the RIGHT THING and pass this legislation. There is no reason whatsoever that anyone (civilian) or emergency personnel providing assistance should endure the loss of a life because the recipient of help didn't take the time to learn English and ameliorate the delivery and receiving of assistance.

Duplicate that same experience to any one coming to the aid of a motorist who doesn't understand English but yet is driving on our roads. How traumatic of an experience would it be for that motorist coming to deliver aid to experience the loss of life of that "other" motorist if they cannot communicate effectively.

I know some say that the same can be said about tourists and the like, but I am talking about a person who has chosen to live in our country, our state on a permanent basis. All human life is sacred, but I am specifically talking about someone who lives here permanently. Someone who drives on a daily basis to the grocery store, to the coffee shop, to school or work or to church. Someone whose presence on the road has an astronomically high probability of running into me on the road.

Eddie Garcia

By: localboy on 5/6/10 at 7:37

While I'm not in favor of the current legislation, the author did opponents little good by compiling this bit of propaganda...the author is guilty of that of which he has been critical.

By: fishfry on 5/11/10 at 7:37

Eddie - you are so RIGHT! I also am from immigrant stock and speak Spanish. I know of one family that has been here for 8 years and the mother "refuses" to learn English. I think it is because she wants people to feel sorry for her and give her stuff. How selfish is that? How will blanket amnesty help this person? She doesn't want to really become an American, she just wants American privilege without any responsibility!

This is what is the matter with giving immigrants something for nothing! The issue for politicians is not about immigrants becoming contributing citizens (most send their money back to their native country) but about political votes. Entitlements (isn't that a misnomer!

By: theredspaniel on 8/8/10 at 8:21

Of course a Jewess would lead the opposition to an English-only bill. This is the Jewish Century after all:

Unfortunately for the J-team, the peasants aren't too happy with the way things have turned out (black, incompetent president; constant accusations of racism - or is it WOLF?), so a revolt has begun (as has always happened throughout history). You think the Tea Party is racist and fascist? You ain't seen nothin' yet... Stay tuned for act II.

To learn more about the bleeding edge of the radical right, please visit