Despite mentioning the dubious motives of Frederick County lawmakers in her Feb. 24 Metro column, “The hidden benefit of official-English laws,” Petula Dvorak argued that the “point” of declaring English the official language in Frederick County is right. Regardless of the benefits of learning English, Ms. Dvorak minimized the true (and malicious) point of this law.
This ordinance focuses solely on interactions with the government — not business transactions — and does not seek to improve customer service or even language acquisition for non-English speakers. A mandate that denies residents needed information and services in the language that is most effective for them will only encourage discrimination against people who are, or are assumed to be, immigrants.
Melissa Rothstein, Washington
The writer is deputy director of the Equal Rights Center.
Regarding the Feb. 26 Metro story “In Frederick, common-language law sows divisions”:
I loved the comments of Hispanic immigrants such as the shoemaker who agreed with what many immigrants to the United States (such as me and my parents) have believed over the years: You’ve got to learn the language of your new homeland to succeed and to be worthy of living in this great country.
I teach English to immigrants from many lands. There is no excuse for not learning the language, even if you’re working two jobs. My father was a stockbroker in Germany. When he came to this country he worked as a scrap metal sorter — and learned English, too.
John Baer, Annandale
It is demeaning to immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries to suggest that they do not have the time or ability to learn English. My grandparents came to the United States during a similar economic crisis. They worked countless hours at minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet while keeping their kids in school and sending money to family members in their native lands.
Today’s immigrants are no less talented, resourceful and beneficial to our culture. It is troubling to hear people assume less of them than they did of our forefathers by saying they are too busy, too tired or too old to learn English. They can do anything they set their mind to.
Susan Kalish, Oakton