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SANTORUM is RIGHT on PUERTO RICO; ROMNEY PANDERED and did not SHOW LEADERSHIP!

There was a dust up last week that was very revealing and it was over statehood for Puerto Rico and whether they could have Spanish as an official language.  Here is the Santorum view:

While campaigning Wednesday ahead of the island’s primary on Sunday, Santorum told a newspaper that for Puerto Rico to become “a state of the United States, English must be the principal language.”

***

Asked about his comments on Thursday, Santorum told CNN, “English has to be learned as a language. It has to be a country where English is widely spoken and used. Yes.”

Asked if it should be a requirement for the territory to become a state, Santorum said, “I think English and Spanish. Obviously Spanish will be spoken here on the island. But this needs to be a bilingual country, not just a Spanish-speaking country. Right now it is overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking but it needs to have, in order for it to integrate into American society, English has to be a language that is spoken here also and spoken universally.”

That sound idea went over in Puerto Rico like a lead balloon:

“Santorum’s view is narrow and a limiting view of what America is all about,” said Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat, on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “English is the predominant language in the U.S. and will continue to be so, whether Puerto Rico becomes a state or not.”

One of the proposed delegates pledged to Santorum resigned in protest, and this article has the protests of several prominent Puerto Rican leaders.  The CNN article tried to refute Santorum with this:

There is currently no law declaring an official language of the United States, though several attempts have been made to give English that designation. Thirty-one states have passed laws mandating English as their official language. The Constitution also makes no mention of a language test for territories or properties that wish to become states.

But all the laws are written in ENGLISH, so is the Constitution and it is a LAW that new citizens must show proficiency in the English language to be naturalized as a citizen (8 USC Section 1423):

(a) No person except as otherwise provided in this subchapter shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States upon his own application who cannot demonstrate—

(1) an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language: Provided, That the requirements of this paragraph relating to ability to read and write shall be met if the applicant can read or write simple words and phrases to the end that a reasonable test of his literacy shall be made and that no extraordinary or unreasonable condition shall be imposed upon the applicant; and

The Congress can always set up conditions for statehood, to include that polygamy shall always be forever banned (Utah), and even that the judicial and legislative proceedings of Louisiana had to be conducted in English:

“…and that after the admission of the said territory of Orleans as a state into the Union, the laws which such state may pass shall be promulgated and its records of every description shall be preserved, and its judicial and legislative written proceedings conducted in the language in which the laws and the judicial and legislative written proceedings of the United States are now published and conducted…” (From Section 3 of the Act)

So it is not improper for the United States to require the acts and proceedings of a state to be in English.  In fact, most do not know that the acts and proceedings of Puerto Rico are first written in Spanish and must be translated into English by the Michie Company of Charlottesville, VA.  Here’s the website of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico – en espanol!  Here’s the website of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) (they favor free association) and the one of the other major political party, the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (NPP)

In light of all that, here’s the Romney response:

“Puerto Rico currently recognizes both English and Spanish as the official languages of the commonwealth,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Governor Romney believes that English is the language of opportunity and supports efforts to expand English proficiency in Puerto Rico and across America. However, he would not, as a prerequisite for statehood, require that the people of Puerto Rico cease using Spanish.”

I think this is a simple case of pandering to the voters.  This is the perceived problem with Romney.  He’s simply too willing to say what people what to hear at the time.  He should have said something like this:

“It’s great to honor the Spanish language and heritage of Puerto Rico and its people and I do so.  What language citizens choose to speak in their own homes and among their friends and family is their own business.  But we would insist that for Puerto Rico to become a state, it must adopt English as the official language for the acts and proceedings, judicial and legislative, be written in English and if necessary, translated into Spanish for the benefit of the people.  However, there also must be mandatory English language training in all the schools of Puerto Rico (with Spanish, too if desired) as English is the language in the United States that gives the best opportunity for advancement and achievement for all its residents.”

Of course, since statehood is, thanks the President on the five dollar bill, irrevocable, it must be approved by a large majority (75% at least) voting for it.  There are actually THREE options for Puerto Ricans in November:  Statehood, Independence or Free Association, which is like independence accompanied by a treaty between the Puerto Rico nation and the United States concerning defense and foreign affairs.  PR would have complete liberty under free association as if independence but would have long term relationships for safety and trade with the US.  I personally favor free association. Puerto Rico has it own Olympic team, its own Miss Universe contestant(in 2006 Miss Puerto Rico WON!) and participates in the Pan American Games, too (They won SIX gold medals in 2011!).

I would strongly and enthusiastically support statehood for Puerto Rico if the vast majority wanted it, were willing to do official business in English and embarked on a policy to make sure all had the chance to learn English.  I support Free Association because it best respects the clear intent of the PR people to use Spanish as the major language and preserve their cultural heritage.  Anyone who is a conservative or against illegal immigration because they are prejudiced against Hispanic people needs to repent of their sins!  There is no respecter of persons with God and all people groups and languages will be represented in heaven.  (If you want to know more about how you can join that group, whatever your people group or language is, go here, although I admit it is in English!)  Racism and prejudice is against the goal of liberty for all.  I think Governor Romney failed a leadership test here.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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