Ken Blackwell

One of the most unreported stories of the past month is Democrats in Congress refusing to protect the Salvation Army and other similar organizations from lawsuits for requiring their employees to be able to speak English on the job. This policy issue is also important politically, and Republicans will benefit politically by doing the right thing.

John Fund’s recent Wall Street Journal article reveals this absurd situation. Lawsuits have been brought by individuals and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against employers like the Salvation Army for requiring their employees to learn English within one year. The Salvation Army is only requiring English in performing work duties, not what language workers use in the break room, and gives them a full 12 months to learn the language. Yet the EEOC and certain groups are suing.

So Senator Alexander put an amendment into an appropriations bill to shield employers from these ridiculous lawsuits. The amendment passed both the House and the Senate. But the Democrats of the House Hispanic Caucus, led by Rep. Joe Baca, told Speaker Pelosi that she needed to stop this, and she readily complied by promising to strike the language in conference, holding up the bill.

The problem is that this bill includes all the money for the Justice Department and the FBI. Critical national security, terrorist prevention, and law enforcement dollars are in that bill, and Mrs. Pelosi is caving to pressure from radical liberal groups, and in the process, selling out what’s best for immigrants.

I say radical liberal groups because the vast majority of Americans disagree with them. Over 80% of Americans think English should be the official language of government, almost 90% think it’s very important for immigrants to be able to speak English, and over 75% believe that employers have the right to require employees to speak English while on the job.

The only ones who don’t think English should be the official language are liberal activists trying to recast America in their image. Those activists also form a large part of the Democratic base, and would be unforgiving of a Democratic presidential candidate who refuses to promise amnesty, driver licenses, and free health care to illegal immigrants.

Americans should disagree with this radical agenda. The simple fact is English is the commercial language of America. We speak it in business, in school, and in the press. In a workplace, it’s important for safety, morale, and customer relations for everyone to be able to speak a common language.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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