As an immigrant who supports the unifying role of the English language, I am deeply offended at the way in which The Baltimore Sun presented a recent news story detailing what was twice referred to as "racist" legislation to make English the official language of certain county governments in Maryland ("Maryland counties seek to make English official language," Marcy 11). The piece had strong antagonistic undertones that served only to perpetuate false beliefs about the Official English movement.
The mission of the Official English movement is simple: To create a national language policy with English as our common language, to ensure effective communication, equality of opportunity and national stability and unity.
The movement does not have an underlying political message. It does not impact the freedom of individuals to choose the language they speak on a daily basis. It is simply meant to ensure that immigrants are put on an equal footing to reach the economic level of native English speakers.
Currently, if more than 5 percent of a district's voting-age population speaks a foreign language, localities are required by law to print ballots in that language. Rather than perpetuating a culture of exclusion, the Official English movement leaves citizens with the ability to speak whatever language they choose, while sending the message that in order to fully participate in American society, one must speak English.
Mauro E. Mujica
The writer is chairman of U.S. English, Inc.