Monday, August 4, 2008

English-Only Metro Charter amendment petition is of grave concern to the NAHCC

Negative impact will affect Nashville's image as an inclusive and welcoming city

Through the following press announcement the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (NAHCC), expresses support for Councilman Ronnie Steine's upcoming resolution for the Metro Council to go on record opposing the "English-Only" charter amendment ballot initiative.

English is already the "official and legal language" of Tennessee. In November of 2006, the Council passed resolution RS2006-1650, clarifying that state law already establishes English as the official language, and expressing concern that further English-only legislation could actually be bad for English acquisition.
While no one disputes the importance of learning English, it is of concern to the leadership of the NAHCC the implications of an "English-Only" law.
"The NAHCC is concerned about this proposal's impact to our economy and further economic development. "English Only" will hurt Nashville's tourism from foreign countries - country music is becoming a very popular genre in many foreign countries, many of them Spanish speaking countries- It will put a damper on legal immigration to Nashville" said NAHCC President Yuri Cunza.

"English Only" is very plainly anti- foreigner - it flashes a loud neon sign to all foreign nationals "NOT WELCOME". This does not represent the friendly and welcoming tradition of Nashville.
"Passage of this kind of legislation will damage ongoing efforts by city leaders, neighbors and organizations whose tireless work have made out of Nashville a great place to live, work and visit. Let's not further affect the economic growth and opportunities for our city and its people by showing and unwelcoming side of Nashville that does not reflect its residents" added Cunza.
The NAHCC has been instrumental in improving the image of our businesses and the community at large, promoting the importance of creating avenues designed to improve trade and communication levels.
"We want to encourage all Council members to support Councilman Steine's resolution as a display of solidarity in standing behind the multitude of important reasons "English Only" would be poor public policy and not good for Nashville" says Luis Bustillos Vice-Chair of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The proposed ballot initiative is "English-only" not "English-first." The initiative is an attempt to eliminate the use of all non-English languages by Metro government. The word "only" appears twice in the proposed language, and the word "first" doesn't appear at all. The outright prohibition is excessive and potentially dangerous. It will almost certainly be found to violate federal law and the city could end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars defending this misguided ballot initiative, only to see it struck down in court.
The promotion of "English Only" says to new businesses and students considering Nashville that foreign people are not welcome and will not be accommodated. According to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Japanese investment alone in Tennessee exceeded $9.4 billion in 2004, creating over 40,000 jobs.
"The threat to public safety and the ability of Nashville government to communicate with all city residents would be seriously compromised if this and other similar legislation came to fruition. Imposing an artificial language barrier will create confusion and make all Nashvillians less safe and divided" added Loraine Segovia a member of the Executive Board of the NAHCC.

TAKE ACTION: Click here to contact your Metro Council representative NOW!

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