Bush opposes English as national language: Gonzales

HOUSTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush
has long opposed making English the country’s national language,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Friday, the day after the
Senate voted to do so.

The vote came in an amendment to proposed
legislation overhauling U.S. immigration law and directed the
government to “preserve and enhance” the role of English. Opponents
said it could affect the status of some multilingual services offered
by government organizations.

Adding to the confusion, the Senate
also adopted a softer amendment calling English the “unifying language”
of the United States. Senators take both versions into negotiations
over a final bill with the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gonzales did not directly address Bush’s position on the
controversial amendment because the Senate has not yet voted on the
whole bill. But he said that Bush has in the past rejected such efforts.

“The
president has never supported making English the national language,”
Gonzales said after meeting with state and local officials in Texas to
discuss cooperation on enforcement of immigration laws.

He said
Bush has instead long supported a concept called “English-Plus,”
believing that it was good to be proficient in more than one language.

“English
represents freedom in our country and anybody who wants to be
successful in our country has a much better chance of doing so if they
speak English,” Gonzales said. “It is of course a common language.”

But, Gonzales said, “I don’t see the need to have laws or legislation that says English is the national language.”

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