Colorado Schools Sued By Custodians For Using English Instructions

230px-AurariacampusThere is an interesting lawsuit against an academic institution in Colorado. Spanish-speaking custodial workers at the Auraria Higher Education Center in Colorado are suing over the failure of the Center to give them instructions in Spanish — alleging that they have faced unsafe conditions over the use of English rather than Spanish. The case suggests that the use of Spanish can not only be legally required but that the use of English can constitute a type of unsafe workplace.

Roughly a dozen custodial workers filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that the Center only communicated with its workers in English. The complaint names the Metropolitan State University of Denver, the University of Colorado-Denver and the Community College of Denver.

Blaine Nickeson, an AHEC vice president, said that the AHEC does offer some translations, but that it cannot be required to use native languages for all of its employees.

I tend to agree. I cannot see how using English as the primary form of communication in the United States can be the basis for discrimination or an unsafe work environment. If schools are legally required to speak the language of custodians and other employees, can they refuse to hire non-English speaking employees or would that be a form of discrimination based on national origin? Such an obligation would presumably extend to all languages from Polish to Chinese to Spanish. It creates an added burden on businesses which could find themselves in a vice between the duty to hire without discrimination and the costs of supplying translations for any non-English speaking employees.

What do you think?

Source: CBS

97 thoughts on “Colorado Schools Sued By Custodians For Using English Instructions

  1. I think you’re wrong. If they hire Spanish-speaking individuals, and they have a non-discrimination policy that includes “national origin,” I would say they very much should be required to communicate with their employees in a language the employees understand. And, frankly, they’re being a little dickish by not doing without the court’s intervention. I love it when employers want the financial benefits of hiring immigrants, but none of the responsibilities.

    We are a nation of asses, and this is proof.

  2. DOG DAMN! – I think it smells like Lawyers terrorizing the establishment???

  3. I think it is absolutely appalling that they are doing this. It is not the responsibility of the school, it is the responsibility of the workers to learn English. If you come to the US to live then you accept the responsibility to become part of the country which includes learning English. We as a nation are going broke, why is the government giving subsides to hire immigrants when the unemployment rate here is steadily climbing and true figures are out the roof.This is the US. Go to any other country and you fall under their jurisdiction and not knowing is not good enough. You better have your papers and passport in your possession when ask for them also.

  4. Rule 1 of Communication goes: It is the duty of the communicator to communicate in a way that the audience understands. If the school wanted the directions followed it should have made them accessible. We’re not talking about some obscure language but one spoken by millions of Americans.

    Even if we were talking about a very small group of foreign speakers — see rule 1.

  5. If they hire non-English speaking employees they must offer safety and work instruction in these employees language. This is a valid challenge.
    My question is why did they hire non-English speakers.
    My next question, Is it legal to make English a requirement for employment?

  6. HOW did they get hired if they only spoke Spanish!?!?

    Fire them as incapable of doing the job. (AND the person that hired them in the first place!)

  7. I cannot see how using English as the primary form of communication in the United States can be the basis for discrimination or an unsafe work environment. What do you think?

    Not successfully anyway.

  8. David Blauw 1, May 17, 2013 at 7:48 am

    … Is it legal to make English a requirement for employment?
    I think so, especially in “right to fire” states.

  9. If I emigrated to China, the first rule would be for me to learn Chinese and in a hurry if I wanted to take part in their economy and not end up sweeping floors in some provincial school.

    It would be supreme arrogance on my part to expect the Chinese to learn English to be able to communicate with me.

    Not learning English is an impediment to fully entering our economy. I can think of nothing more certain to keep an immigrant to our shores in financial chains than to keep him from learning English.

    But then, I can see why people would not want to compete with Hispanics, they are some of the hardest working people I know and they do a great job for less than a price charged by English speaking Americans. Many people do not engage them because of the language barrier and they are forced to work for a company with Spanish speaking foreman rather than stepping out on their own.

    And we think we are doing immigrants a favor by letting them hold on to their language and not learn English?

  10. Mark,

    See Rule number 1….. Question 2, how did they communicate with the folks when they were first employed….. See Rule number 1….’

  11. I am with mespo on making instructions in Spanish not a big deal. Spanish is a common second (or even first) language in many parts of the country. If the instructions for your cell phone or TV controller is in six different languages, it seems to me it’s not much of a stretch to have the rules in Spanish.

    Now out on the extreme. When I was in grad school, the Chief of the campus police department was Polish. He was first generation, spoke fluent Polish, and when he got his own Ph.D., he took his required foreign language exam in Polish. The head of the Modern Languages Department told me they did not get many calls for Polish exams. However, he did not call for the traffic signs on campus to be dual language as they are in Quebec and Ireland.

  12. The language of America is English not Spanish and should have been codified into law a long time ago by Congress. These workers should know that … they are working at an institution of higher learning that teaches in English. How is using English creating unsafe working conditions for them… ??? What a bunch of rubbish. They should not have been hired, respectfully, unless they could communicate in English. How do they receive instructions on the job ..?? Whoever hired them should have let them know English was a prerequisite to being hired.

  13. Lots of hillbillies with their “language of America”… I guess this is the ugly side of those “civil libertarians” raising its head and its thinly veiled racism. America doesn’t have a language. It would be a Native American dialect of some kind if it really came down to it. English is a European language imported, same as Spanish as been imported. We have always been a melting pot, your white nationalism a side. Now back to being worried about the government taking your guns and the Benghazi scandal.

    PS. Nice job on CNN Prof. Turley the other day.

  14. Those who would make this a political issue on language are not making sense. We are talking about reasonable accommodation in the workplace. There are apparent safety issues for those who are still struggling to learn English. First generation immigrants and workers on visas will not, and should not be expected to, be fluent. English is not an easy language. Of course, their kids will mangle grammar and spelling as well as any other native-born American kid.

    In multilingual areas of the country, multilingual signs and instructions are not be a big deal. Also, for those who say “learn English,” let me ask how many non-English languages do you speak or read?

  15. One other consideration is how immigrants — illegal or otherwise — are supposed to learn English? It’s a difficult language to learn, in the first place, and immigrants are very often isolated from English speakers, both at work and socially. I lived in Germany for over three years, in a very rural community, and despite daily contact with German civilians employees and having numerous German friends, managed to learn almost no German.

    Quit being douches, folks.

  16. Was the Complaint written in English or Spanish? As an Italian Amnerican the Judge should insist on Italian in the Answer filed by the school district. The Principal is of Hawaiian extraction and should insist that the plaintiffs show up in skirts. Next thing the custodians will do when you give them the toilet cleaning instructions in Spanish is allege that they cannot read. When they show up for the court hearing please have someone from Customs there to check on their “papers”. The school should be required to teach them King’s English.

  17. OS,
    you hit the nail on the head. This is a reasonable accommodation issue. If a corporation is going to hire non-English speaking workers, how do they instruct the people on how to do the job on day one if they do not provide instructions in the language they understand?

  18. This is one area where I’m old fashioned. A shared language builds a stronger community and ergo a stronger country both culturally and economically much like common laws and common currency. If you live and/or work in a country where the local language is not your native language, you should learn the local language. Millions of non-English speaking immigrants before you learned English. You should too. That being said, if you’re an employer hiring people with no local language skills? Reasonable accommodation is simply a cost of doing business within the parameters of your decision and “what mespo said”.

    And for OS, Sie weiß, dass ich Deutsch sprechen und lesen Sie einige Latin mit ein paar Brocken der anderen Sprachen.

    In some ways, it’s too bad the experiment of Esperanto failed so miserably.

  19. juliet is right. mespo, too.

    The bandage was wound around the wound.
    The farm was used to produce produce.
    The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.
    We must polish the Polish furniture.
    He could lead if he would get the lead out.
    The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
    Since there is no time like the present, she decided to present the present.
    A bass was painted on the bass drum.
    When shot at the dove dove into the bushes.
    I did not object to the object.

  20. OS:

    Not any now but I am not going to force someone to learn English. But at the same time I think if you are in a country it behooves you to learn their language not the other way round.

    As I said above, if I moved to China I would learn Chinese as fast as I could so I would be able to function in business.

    I have an architect friend who emigrated from a South American country who learned English in about 1 year, he still has a few problems but his English is way better than my Spanish. He could only do landscape work when he got here, now he is working on building a construction company with a friend of his.

    If he had not learned English there is no way he could do what he is now doing. Do you think it is any different for a brick mason, plumber, carpenter, doctor or lawyer?

  21. Bron,
    the point is that if the school hired Spanish speaking employees, how do they get trained or told what to do until they learn Spanish? The employer needs to be reasonable. Of course they should learn English, but if you are hired as a non-English speaking worker, it only makes business sense that this employee will need accommodations until he/she understands English.

  22. On the subject of Polish speaking custodians. Many, if not most, of the custodians who cleaned office buildings back in the 80’s in Chicago were Polish immigrants. I worked in the Sears Tower, and would converse w/ them since I knew a little Polski from the Pollack friends of my youth. Their English was broken, but they always were looking to improve it.

    Regarding this case. Mexicans are some of the best immigrants this country has ever had IMHO. They are gracious, hard-working, family oriented, and religious. The latter being a plus in most folks eyes. This type controversy is not typical of Mexican immigrants. The vast majority strive to learn English and speak their native language in the home, just like the aforementioned Polish, and my Italian grandparents. If nothing else, this is just bad pr for immigration reform. I am an enthusiastic supporter. However, many U.S. citizens are on the it were! This will not help Mexicans cause. And, the legislation I’ve read about has a requirement to speak English, which I also support.

  23. OS,

    “The case suggests that the use of Spanish can not only be legally required but that the use of English can constitute a type of unsafe workplace.”

    That’s the issue.

    And the answer is categorically no.

    Allowing people to immigrate into the country does not constitute a legal obligation to alter the language and culture to suit each and every such immigrant.

    The mere fact that many people happen to speak Spanish on the continents of North and South America does not obligate the United States to speak any other language than it has been speaking since its inception.

    Any accommodations afforded to those who have not or are incapable of learning the mother tongue are strictly optional.

  24. Bob,

    “Allowing people to immigrate into the country does not constitute a legal obligation to alter the language and culture to suit each and every such immigrant.”


    “The mere fact that many people happen to speak Spanish on the continents of North and South America does not obligate the United States to speak any other language than it has been speaking since its inception.”


    “Any accommodations afforded to those who have not or are incapable of learning the mother tongue are strictly optional.”

    In theory, yes, but the employment and workplace safety nexus complicates the issue.

  25. rafflaw:

    If the school system hired them knowing they didnt speak English, then they should make accommadations. It seems silly to hire someone who doesnt speak English and then get bent out of shape because you have to translate for them.

    There has to be more to this story.

    Around here, there is usually one guy who speaks both and is made foreman.

  26. Maybe we should just give back California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona to Mexico and be done with it.

    California wouldnt be missed and neither would New Mexico or Arizona. Texas would go to war with Mexico and take them over and then be a separate country which they [Texans] want anyway.

  27. “In theory, yes, but the employment and workplace safety nexus complicates the issue.”

    Sure, but it cannot be used to the extent that JT warned about above.

  28. Well the next time you fly, just think of your safety when the mechanics who worked on your aircraft in a non-airline overhaul facility used job cards and manuals that are only in English and most of the workers read and speak only Spanish or some language other than English. The FAA has no problem with that at all. So If the FAA can allow this, I can see no problem with these workers gatting instructions only in English. What they are doing can be done with verbal instructions in their language.

  29. seems like a potential catch 22, hire those workers but use English get sued because they are not receiving their work instruction in Spanish. To avoid this in the future Spanish speakers are not hired and then there is the basis for a discrimination suit.
    If they spoke enough English to be hired then they I would expect understood it to be able to understand the work instructions. Without knowing more, such as are they truly Spanish speaking and have no or minimal English skills, it is hard to know if there is any legitimacy to the complaint.

  30. I think some of you are missing the distinction between speaking a language and reading (or writing) it. These people may be able to speak English passably so as to enable the hiring process and daily instructions, etc. But they are not able to read English, thus the issue at hand.

  31. Actually I think I may take back what I wrote, as it seems that this is largely, if not totally, about spoken instructions/communication.

    It does seem problematic that they hired workers without English skills and yet didn’t foresee this problem coming.

  32. Why such a big deal over language….. You call a person that speaks three languages trilingual ….. You call a person that speaks two languages bilingual ….. And you know what we call a person that speaks one language….American…..

  33. My Daughter is in Japan at present…. She’s been there for awhile….. She is staying in an American House….. But is required to learn Japanese fluently….. She just got her term grades back…. She maintained a 4.0 …… She must take after her mother…..

  34. AY, Actually you can also call them British too. The Brits are not too big on learning other languages either. I had to help out a British couple in Germany who were driving around, and had NO idea of how to get a hotel, find out where to go, and spoke nothing other than English. Since I speak German, I had to help them out and shepherd them around to get to their hotel and clue them in how to do the driving and make arrangements.

  35. Tricky situation in that the employers involved are state and, more than likely also federally, funded institutions. One certainly can not put “Must be able to understand English” on the job description without violating discrimination laws leaving the institution also open to lawsuits.

    Someone had to have offered these employees assistance in the application and interview process, not to mention the background and medical check phase of hiring.

    On way around all this nonsense is to invest in a practice called “Culture of the Workplace” study. The study falls under the medical phase of employee testing. The initial study is departmental and expensive but they stand up well in court if sued for discrimination or other alleged violations of the Equal Employment Opportunity laws.

  36. I think the employer could have avoided this by making a requirement of “being able to communicate effectively in the English language” requisite upon hiring. It is not discriminatory based upon race or immigration status, it is a necessary skill required to perform a duty.

    But the employer walked right into this legal liability by not accomodating their language ability. The employer knew they did not speak English sufficiently so they have to provide accomodation.

  37. Some believe this would be discriminatory to require speaking English. It is not so if the job encompases this ability. Would an employer be liable for not hiring a person who only spoke Russian to be a 911 dispatcher who acted as a call taker and 99% of people calling spoke only English?

    But I could see there being a mitigator in this issue where the job at hand did not involve the need to communicate in English. Yet, the plaintiffs in this case are alleging their safety was risked because the employer could not communicate in Spanish. In a way that could work for the employer because the employer could say that safety reasons require the proficiency in English. But, once the employer hired them despite their language restriction it’s a little late for the employer to make that argument.

  38. I find it very hypocritical of those who decry the fact that Americans are in the main monolingual, yet have no problem with foreigners who live and work here for being so arrogant and not speaking English. I will be in favor of this suit when those who are for accomodating them show the same concern for Americans who speak only English when they are only TOURISTS in foreign countries. If one thinks Americans are obnoxious for insisting on speaking English when abroad, then how much MORE obnoxious is it for immigrants to demand that WE speak THEIR language when they live and work here?

    I would also check on their immigration status and demand proof of their legal status to even have a job here.

  39. Randyjet that is not analogous. Being in a foreign country and trying (or not trying) to speak the language is not the same as living and working in a country but not knowing the language of that country.

  40. I wonder if the janitorial services are a “contract” situation … even more intriguing from a legal standpoint …

  41. Blouise

    I agree the contracting situation would be different. I would think it would be the responsibility of the company contracting with the school and not the school itself to provide the warnings in that case.

  42. Darren,

    But the schools have the deeper pockets. 😉

    I was a Civil Service Commissioner … there are groups of folks who purposely look for any “mistake” in the job description or workplace environment … the investigation, forms, and fines can cost an employer a pretty penny … especially when dealing with the feds. I suspect this group found a chink in the armor and are moving in for a possible settlement.

    Experience in this field has, admittedly, made me somewhat cynical.

  43. The solution is not to hire people who cannot speak english.
    I personally think people should have to take english classes and pass basic tests before being allowed to move here.
    Im sure the bleeding hearts on here will disagree

  44. I advise the school district to set forht the following accomodation. If the work day starts at Seven a.m. then have a boss there at Six and require the workers to be there at Six a.m. Turn on the Berlitz video on the Kings English. Give em coffee and donuts. At Seven they start sweeping, moping, and cleaning the outhouses. Tell em to pay attention when they wipe down the blackboards in the class rooms. Pay em for that first hour every day. At lunch time have a Spanish speaking person inquire as to the duties of the day and what they do or dont understand.

    Give a test when you hire. If they speak Spanish but not good enough English to get by then put them in the morning class. If you get one from Chechnia or Armenia obtain the correct Berlitz video tape and keep em away from pressure cookers.

  45. “If they hire non-English speaking employees they must offer safety and work instruction in these employees language. ”

    No they don’t. Your asserting facts not in evidence. If I am hired to do customer service and I cant speak to any of the customers, its not the employers problem.

  46. “If I am hired to do customer service and I cant speak to any of the customers, its not the employers problem.”

    On what planet? It’s precisely the employers problem. Bad customer service equals pissed off customers equals soon to be ex-customers equals declining revenues.

  47. Anonymously Yours
    My Daughter is in Japan at present…. She’s been there for awhile….. She is staying in an American House….. But is required to learn Japanese fluently…..

    The countries I checked out for immigration purposes required conversational fluency in their language for immigration and one for work permits. It’s not a big deal. For immigration one country gave a window for the requirement and their guidance said that the screening process took long enough that ‘visiting’ on a visa while awaiting a ruling on immigration provided enough time to become proficient prior to the final test(s) required. That seems reasonable to me.

    Blouise raises a good point. One of the last companies I worked for was expanding and need a large addition with many dedicated engineering peculiarities built. They hired a German firm to do it (bas***ds- the owners, not the Germans) and the Germans flew over the entire construction crew from some Eastern European nation. Not one of them spoke American and the work foreman didn’t speak American well enough to interact effectively with the company’s safety department or logistics/contracting department. I kid you not. The job ended up being shut down and a new, generally American speaking crew was brought in. It was a very, very expensive mess.

    Often times a large contractor you contract with then sub-contracts the work- ’embedding’ it’s called. There may well be a layer of liability in this instance that is not apparent from the story and was not apparent when the school contracted for the work. If the janitors were direct-hire though then I’d agree that the school is on the hook.

    Language is a great cultural ‘leveler’ IMO so I’m with Gene on the point that immigrants should speak the language.

  48. “Language is a great cultural ‘leveler’ IMO so I’m with Gene on the point that immigrants should speak the language.”


    An excellent idea. Here are some helpful hints and tips to get you guys started.

  49. Smartass.:mrgreen:

    But that is part of why we get along so well, OS.

    Seriously though, when you go to live in an “alien” culture, even one that prides itself on being a melting pot, the responsibility to integrate to the culture is not a one way proposition. Learning the dominant local language is simply part of integration. And we are talking about immigration, not invasion and subjugation. If I moved to France, I’d learn to speak more French. If I invaded and subjugated France, I’d expect them to learn to use my mother tongue as the conqueror. Romans taught Latin everywhere they went and in your dealings with the state and in commerce, if you didn’t learn it, you were at a distinct disadvantage in dealing with Rome and Romans. Just so, you are still at a disadvantage when the cultural shift is voluntary. You do more harm to yourself than to those in the linguistic majority by refusing to learn the local language. If you consider how many immigrants have the language barrier used against them by bad actors in this country because those immigrants don’t communicate well enough to know their basic legal rights and protections or to ask for help, you’ll see this is a true proposition. It’s not a matter of racism or nationalism. It’s a matter of linguistic practicality.

  50. Gene,
    I know I don’t have to tell you this, but in case some reader has been living in a cave as a hermit for the past few centuries, the manner in which the European settlers mistreated the First People is shameful on an epic scale. They stole their religion, their culture, their history and their language.

    When I was in graduate school, one of the department secretaries was full blood Navajo. The department head was about half Navajo. He was proud of his heritage. He would sit in class and tell stories of the old ways and how they applied to the modern science we were studying.

    The secretary did not know any words in the Navajo language, or have a clue about their religious beliefs except they were “pagan.” She did not know any of the oral histories, and did not seem to care.

    I try to do my small part. I adopted the Cherokee word for the Blue Ridge Mountains as a username. We go to powwows when we can. My daughter has learned a lot about the culture just through exposure without me having to do a thing. Hardly what Andrew Jackson had in mind for the future of the nation.

  51. “the manner in which the European settlers mistreated the First People is shameful on an epic scale.”

    I can’t argue against that point nor would I. My great-great grandmother was full blood Blackfoot. “Shameful on an epic scale” is an exercise in understatement.

    But I still think the point about acculturation is valid.

  52. Juliet Lester Neary said:

    “I love it when employers want the financial benefits of hiring immigrants, but none of the responsibilities.”

    Well, let’s see. The program up there has a custodial staff of 106. Well over half are either Black or White folks.

    The starting salary – at least the one listed on the wall in H.R. for all to see – is $1902 a month.

    So would it be your considered opinion that they have a secret, lower salary for Hispanics?

  53. “I tend to agree. I cannot see how using English as the primary form of communication in the United States can be the basis for discrimination or an unsafe work environment.”

    So, what you’re saying is, if an employer deliberately removes the picture-based safety labels known worldwide, leaving only the warnings in English words, that constitutes a “safe working environment”? That it’s the fault of the employees for not speaking or reading English should they get sick or die? How very “libertarian” of you.

    If I ask you to pick up something that I know has live electricity running through it, and the only warning signs are written in Swahili, is it your fault for not knowing Swahili, or my fault for not labelling or warning you about the electrical hazard? Is it my fault or your fault if you do something potentially lethal that you would not do if warned properly, or would not do without proper safety equipment and procedures?

    Safety labels have universal symbols, recognizable even to those who don’t know what they mean (people who buy household cleaners know those symbols, not just industrial workers). Anyone who sees a four colored diamond or skull-and-crossbones label is going to hesitate until certain about safety. (But safety isn’t profitable for companies, is it? Thank you, George Bu**sh**, for lowering safety standards.)

    If labels are removed in order to get people to work in unsafe conditions, the companies can and should be criminally charged under many statutes. From the EPA:

    170.210 Restrictions during applications


    (b) Handlers handling highly toxic pesticides. The handler employer shall assure that any handler who is performing any handling activity with a product that has the skull and crossbones symbol on the front panel of the label is monitored visually or by voice communication at least every 2 hours.

    From Illinois’ Toxic Substances Disclosure to Employees Act:

    (820 ILCS 255/8) (from Ch. 48, par. 1408)

    (c) The employer shall ensure that each label, sign, placard or set of operating instructions required by this Section is prominently affixed and displayed in such a manner that employees can easily identify the toxic substances present.

    “Such a manner” includes symbols and words in the employee’s own language.

    There have been cases where employers deliberately removed labels and made workers handle hazardous materials without safety equipment. If the same happened in Colorado, I won’t be surprised.

  54. LK,

    You are correct and speak with dignity…..thanks for the mention of my daughter…..

  55. OS,

    Hate to break the news to you…. But the Cherokee are not the only true Americans….. Where Winthrop came aground…. I suspect they were natives and not Cherokee …. But Wampanoag or something like that…. Maybe they spoke Cherokee…. I don’t know….

  56. During my working days I would fly to the west coast for biz and pleasure. I would look down from the plane and see the very interesting terrain of the great southwest. I had flown to Phoenix, but never got out of the metro area. When we started going to San Diego for the winter, I got to drive through this distinctively beautiful part of out country. I stopped somewhere in Arizona a couple years back @ a Walmart in Navajo country. It was so interesting for me to hear virtually all the clerks and customers speaking their native language. But, of course, they all spoke English as well. As you know, these people and their language were invaluable during WW2.

  57. JLN – Support a family??? Anybody able to support themselves on that????

  58. I am a liberal democrat, probably considered progressive but I think that should be a requirement for immigration purposes, to have to learn the language.
    More then once when dealing with customer service, on the phone as well as in person, I have had to say I am sorry I cannot understand you because accents are so heavy and they are not proficient in English.

  59. leejcaroll, I have to agree with you on the fact that if you live and work in a country, it is elementary courtesy and decency to speak the language of your host country. Not doing so is outrageous arrogance which is what many people say Americans abroad exhibit when as tourists they expect foreigners to all speak English. Such people who are taking money for working here, are outrageous when they expect US to accomodate them. Sorry folks, I have to insist on elementary courtesy and decency for ALL people.

  60. I’ve been thinking (and still thinking about it) that American English maybe should be declared the official language of the country and some level of skill therein should be mandatory for all immigrants. Also, that requirement should be supported by schools offering free language courses to children and adults. The lack of knowing the language works a handicap on the non-proficient. They are relegated to opportunities only within their own communities and shut out of the greater community and the business opportunities therein.

    Being non-proficient in the greater language in many ways relegates one to an economic underclass and we don’t need a larger underclass. It expands daily with the un and under-employed as it is. Any steps that would work to shrink the underclass would be a good thing. Of course, having citizens that don’t speak the country’s majority/business language are resources that the country can’t or can’t effectively tap. The nation suffers from that loss.

    It should be win/win.

  61. As a Texan, I have to remind people that Spanish was an official language of the Republic of Texas. So it would be an offense to our history to declare English as the official language of the US. The same is true of New Mexico which had a large Spanish speaking population at the time of its annexation.Then there is the problem of Puerto Rico which has Spanish as its dominant language and is mostly bilingual. I think that this can be done on a state by state basis. I can see no rational reason Spanish has to be accomodated in Idaho, North Dakota, etc..

  62. So should French also be an official language of the US because parts of the US were at one time territories or departments of France? I don’t think Alaskans are going to take too kindly to being made to accomodate Russian by that matter.

  63. I know of NO part of the US which ever had French as its official language after it became part of the US. Try using some sense. When Alaska was bought by the US I was unaware that the treaty gave preference to Russians and their language. That was NOT true of Spanish which WAS officially part of the laws promoted by New Mexico and Texas. i do not know how CA handled their miniscule Mexican population when it became a state, but I suspect that the Spanish speaking part of the population was so small that it was not considered in its laws. The same was NOT true of Texas and New Mexico which had a large population of Spanish speakers, and in New Mexico they were a majority.

  64. Juliet Lester Neary said:

    “Oh, right! $1902 a month, before taxes, is a huge amount of money. I dare you to try to support a family on that amount.”

    You either missed my point, or sidestepped it.

    The amount of the salary for a custodian at that school is only relevant to your argument, if all of their janitorial staff are “immigrants.”

    “Financial benefits of hiring immigrants” was your phrase.

    And my phrase is this: where exactly is the financial incentive of hiring immigrants, if they represent less than half of the staff, and everybody is on the same payscale?

  65. Randy:

    You are aware that French was widely spoken in Louisiana and in many circles there English was the second language. In fact, Confederate General Gustave Beauregard’s first language was French and he certainly was not unique.

    And there is to consider also the Native Americans’ languages.

  66. Arguments that restrain the government from doing something nationally today because it would be an affront to the (cultural) history of a state aren’t persuasive to me generally. Slaves were sold, bought and held in bondage in my state, it’s part of our legal and cultural heritage. We were admitted to the union as a slave state due to the Missouri compromise. Being a slave state was the compromise. Heritage is nice, unless it isn’t, but positive or negative it doesn’t make a state special enough (IMO) to argue that a national policy shouldn’t be enacted if the policy can reasonably be anticipated to benefit the individual and the nation.

    The states are rife with legal and cultural heritage that is oppressive or discriminatory or divisive. The sooner a national policy can be enacted to curb a states action to enshrine such artifacts of legal and/or cultural heritage, the better. In fact, obviously divisive artifacts of cultural heritage being supported by states generally should be outlawed by the national government and most have already but not all, such as the propensity of some states to fly the confederate flag.

    I don’t see language in the same light as slavery and I don’t advocate being a language nazi. I have a view of language requirements that would stress accessibility in all commercial interactions and education as its baseline. An adequate definition of ‘conversational’ would have to be devised but there are countries that already use that as a requirement so it wouldn’t be as if there were no examples to draw upon. The bar is pretty low since there are only so many people one has need to deal with. I don’t see that as a burdensome requirement for immigration. I think it’s workable.

  67. Perhaps if you made a cogent point, it would be easier to respond.

    As I discovered when I lived in El Paso, having a large labor pool that was willing to work for very low wages lowers the wage scale for the rest of the available applicants of that job, as well. People working for less than $2,000 a month (less than $11.00 an hour, btw) are not living extravagant lives. Since Colorado isn’t a border state, these Spanish-speaking employees are likely immigrants. Since they’re making use of the judicial system, they are here legally. If they are here legally as janitorial staff, they are likely here on a work visa, sponsored by the school.

    Again, and I’m typing slowly so you can understand, employers love to reap the financial benefits of cheap labor, without assuming the responsibilities.

  68. Darren, I am married to a Cajun so I know a lot about the French speaking folks in North America. My point was that to my knowledge French or languages other than Spanish have NOT been recognized as an official language after coming under the flag of the US or changing their legal status from the original state. The same is true of Native languages since those folks were NOT considered part of the US nation until the 20th century.

    By the way, the Cajun French and French Canadian is NOT real French. I had a F/O who was a trilingual woman and we were flying into Montreal and she was handling the radio comm. So I thought it would be cool if she spoke on the radio in French since I speak a fair amount of it, and I would check with her on my understanding of the instructions. So we switch over to Montreal center, and she is listening, and is outraged at the poor quality of the French. So she refuses to speak French with those barbarians who were killing the French language! So I missed out on the shock of the controllers speaking French to an American airliner.

  69. Lotta, we already have the English language requirement for immigrants becoming US citizens. So I think that is quite enough, and besides I like hearing Spanish and using it which is why I live in South Texas. I think some part of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 should be changed as far as elections concerning second language requirements go. It is a bit much since I am an election judge and it is hard to get bilingual poll workers in many places where it is not needed.

  70. Randy has a point there about French, Darren. Frech hasn’t been the official language of government in Louisiana since Jefferson signed off on the purchase.

    BTW, there is little funnier than throwing a native proper French speaker in with a bunch of coonasses and watching the confusion abound. Not only is Cajun and Creole French a bit different in grammar and syntax, coonasses tend to talk at about 100 miles per hour.

  71. JLN it is worse along the border since my neighbor in McAllen was a legal Mexican immigrant who was a skilled auto mechanic and he only earned $8/hr. The reason for this is that most of the workers in his shop were working in the US illegally and commuting to work every day across the bridge. Most people do not know that the US has given out over 6 million Border Crossing cards to Mexican citizens so that they can shop in the US along the border. Those are good for unlimited entry and length of stay as long as they are within 25 miles of the border.

    Most folks also don’t know that Texas is giving a free US public education to Mexican kids who commute to school every day across the border. In Del Rio, the school superintendent asked the BP to stop and detain all the kids crossing the border for one day to check on their legal status. It was found that over 400 kids were using US schools illegally. Their excuse for being in Mexico that day was that they ALL had a sick aunt they were visiting for the night! They did further checking and found that most of their school addresses were bogus or had 30 families living in one house.

    Obama by his latest policy, has basically granted US citizenship or legal residence to Mexican kids who live along the border. This will make it even MORE attractive for the Mexicans to cheat and attend US schools for free. These kids will go to and graduate from a US high school, thus being eligible for reduced tuition at all state schools, and have legal status for doing so, and a claim for US citizenship.

  72. Arthur, you seem to have misunderstood my point. Mexican citizens are going to come across the border to shop, live and work. Just like American citizens do in Mexico. That’s just a fact of geography.

    In my opinion, the solution is to make the borders more open, not less. If people are coming over here to work, let them. And let them pay taxes, including the Social Security they’ll never collect, unless they go through the channels to become citizens. Then you won’t have to worry about Mexican children coming to school here, because their families are paying into the system.

    Making the borders “stronger” only increases all the illegal trafficking that goes on — drugs, humans, medicines, etc. Guess who benefits most from a strong black market? Big Business, Big Agra and Big Pharma. Average citizens in both countries pay a high price so that the U.S. has a cheap, undocumented labor pool, drug addicts can have access to black market pharmaceuticals, and everyone can have their fruits and veggies without being directly exposed to all those pesky chemicals.

  73. JLN, I don’t know what fantasy world you live in, but it is just that, FANTASY. US citizens do NOT commute to work in Mexico along the border to work at jobs Mexican citizens won’t do. In fact. when Ameriflight had a run from SAT to MMMY, Monterrey, I was thinking of living in Mexico and flying that run. I could NOT do that according to Mexican law even though I would be working for an American company, and had a legitimate reason to live there. I would not be taking a job away from any Mexican citizen too. So there is NO equality of opportunity for US citizens ANYWHERE in the world equal to that afforded foreign nationals in the US. To speak of making things less restrictive is absurd since NO country on Earth will accept that, other than US contorlled big business which loves the situation.

    In FACT that is why the Chamber of Commerce and ALL business is for immigration “reform” since it will drive down US wages even more. Any progressive who is for this loosening of the workforce requirements is simply doing the work of the wealthy who love this. It is anti-American worker in the extreme. There is a good reason we have laws against child labor, wages and hours laws, minimum wage laws, etc..It is because history has shown empirically that it is the only way to ensure fairness in labor relations.

    I guess you are totally ignorant of how education is funded in the US. Working in the US does NOT make one liable for school taxes. It is the property owners and renters who do that. You also forget the fact that over half of illegals work OFF the books, and pay NO taxes. Making them legal will not put them on the books since you have to be delusional to think that the employers will turn themselves in for not paying all those back taxes when CIR is done. Then you have to think that the now legal workers will demand a PAY CUT from their employers once they become legal so that they can pay all the taxes on income, FICA, Medicare, Medicaid, and state income taxes. If you think that will happen,there is no hope for your mental process.

    Then you seem to think that those who cannot get visas or immigration permits will simply wait in line for those visas which will never come. The bulk of the illegals are not the highly skilled and well off. They will STILL be denied entry under any “reform”. What do you think that they will do? Over 40% of the illegals are NOT from Mexico, and they will STILL try and enter illegally no matter what reform is done, since they will not be able to get work permits as Mexican citizens will.

    Then you say that making the border stronger will only increase illegal traffic. That is absurd on its face. In fact, the people who say that fences don’t work are the same people who complain that they DO work and force illegals into hazardous areas to cross illegally. You have a problem with rational thought. There is no impermeable border measures any where. What CAN be done is to reduce it to a miniscule level. THAT is very achieveable. Only big business and employers and those who hate American workers are against the fencing and border security measures. I have actually been on a border watch project and I know what goes on.

    We could do away with a border barrier IF we allow the BP to shoot those who are crossing illegally. In fact we have many such areas in the US such as the airspace above downtown DC, prisons, Area 51 and other high security areas. The guards there can and WILL shoot without warning. If you do not want that, then we need fencing. Along with agents, such a barrier is very effective as long as you have people to back it up.

  74. Half of the equation seems to be missing here – if the school had refused to hire these people on the grounds that their inability to speak English was a safety issue, would a resulting lawsuit be any less inevitable?

    The problem is the ‘reasonable’ part of the reasonable accomodation. Is it unreasonable to expect employers to address Spanish-speaking workers in Spanish, given how many Spanish-speaking workers we have here? What about French, which is after all the lingua franca? What about Mandarin, which is the first language of more people than any other? What about Polish or German or Tagalog or Urdu or Klingon? At what point does it become unreasonable to demand that employers address employees in their preferred language?

    Well, sorry, you don’t get an answer to that question ahead of time – you don’t get to know what the law is until after you are accused of breaking the law. Is there anything more manifestly unreasonable than denying people the right to know what the law is prior to prosecuting them for breaking that very law?

  75. I should have said in that last part – you don’t get to know what the law is until after a judge and jury decide what the law is.

  76. You know, Arthur, I wasn’t the slightest bit insulting to you. Not a bit. So this debate is done. I’ll leave you with this — go down to Ft. Bliss sometime and follow some of the higher ranking officers and enlisted “home” some night. See how many actually reside in Juarez.

  77. Since I lived at Laredo AFB for a couple of years, I did the same thing in Nuevo Laredo in Boystown. It is the SAME as Mexicans coming over here to shop which is perfectly legal and right by the way.I certainly did NOT claim to live in or have a RIGHT to live and work in Mexico. I don’t expect any rational response to my points in any case since there are none to be had. As you have proven with your last post. Thank you for confirrming my points.

  78. A. The oath to become a naturalized citizen in this country is spoken in English and sworn to in English after the new potential citizens have taken classes in American history and culture.

    B. To become a citizen is a voluntary act and if you volunteer that means you are volunteering to learn English to adapt to your new country. Would anyone volunteering to become a citizen of any other country not know that to assimilate they would have to learn a new language?

    C. It came out in the last week or so all the bennies given to the family of the two Boston bombers. Here are some of the bennies listed below:

    Section 8 housing

    Free public healthcare

    Food stamps and other EFT transfer payments

    Federal Pell Grants for both sons and most likely their daughters as well.
    (That is $5200.00 per year for each son or daughter who attended a college.)

    City of Cambridge also awarded a $2500 per year scholarship to the younger

    Younger son also reportedly was receiving state.

    We have Americans –already citizens– who do not get bennies like this and yet we open our doors and give newly arrived immigrants aid like this only to have these two clowns kill 4 and maim almost 200.

    Eight or 12 custodians ( I did not read if they are citizens or not), living in the greatest country in the world, the most generous country in the world HAVE JOBS — no matter what the pay — when tens of thousands do not … And they are bitchin’ because they have to work in an environment that requires them to receive instructions in the language of English. I sincerely hope that whatever judge hears this case throws it out at the earliest opportunity and admonishes these workers to get with the program.

    Finally, just HOW are they being threatened or what makes them think their work environment is endangered because they primarily interact in Spanish??

    Again, this is pure rubbish. Have them quit if they feel endangered and see how quick they get hired somewhere else.

    Ohhhh, the shoe is on the other foot…

  79. I just read above where someone said follow high ranking military officers from Fort Bliss home while they make their way across the border to their houses in Juarez.

    As someone who did serve once upon a time in the Army, I respond “Surely, you jest”….??

    Juarez is the absolute murder capital of the world. To the best of my knowledge, all US military are forbidden from going to Juarez (at least at night, anyway but am almost sure it is off-limits by day, as well.)

    No officer, senior NCO or even a private who has spent even one day at Ft. Bliss would not have immediately heard about the narco-terrorist killings across “the river”.

    It is sheer folly to think that US military would rent or own housing in Mexico given the penchant by the cartels to shoot anyone or anything at any time of day they so desire. Please give our military a LOT more credit.

  80. It was JLN who thinks that because one went across to visit the women for sexual favors, it makes one the same as an illegal immigrant who violates US laws and cheats and steals services. I was refering to a time long ago when I used to go to Boystown and the restaurants in Nuevo Laredo and I would have done the same in EL Paso back then too. Now I do NOT go to Nuevo Laredo if I can help it. I went to barbaques at a friends house, and we would listen to the gun fights going on across the border. But I guess Anon851 thinks she is a bit off too by saying surely you jest! By posting this, she indicates she does NOT jest and thinks that it is a real thing today, and justifies illegals coming here. How that shows her rational capacity mystifies me and I guess the rest of us.

  81. I am reasonably sure the Commanding General of Ft. Bliss has put Juarez off limits to all military under his command on Ft. Bliss. If he has not, by chance … he should.

  82. I agree with Anon about those jerks who came over here from Russia or some sub set thereof and got all of the benefits.

  83. Juliet Lester Neary said:

    ” . . .having a large labor pool that was willing to work for very low wages lowers the wage scale for the rest of the available applicants of that job, as well.”

    Exactly so. Nothing more sinister than human supply & demand. No critical thinking necessary. The paycheck most of us make is inversely proportionate to how easy it is to replace us.

    So after recognizing an indisputable free market basic, by what stretch of the imagination might anyone surmise an influx of millions of folks with little education will IMPROVE salaries in the only jobs many of them quality for?

    “Since they’re making use of the judicial system, they are here legally.”

    Please, Lord in Heaven, tell me this person doesn’t handle sharp objects.

    People who enter this country illegally take advantage of the U.S. legal system every day. And who do you think pays for it? Maybe you recall California governor candidate Meg Whitman’s housekeeper? She pulled off a $23 an hour scam for 9 years. Then hired a $1,000 an hour attorney for no money at all and told CNN had badly she’d been treated.

    “If they are here legally as janitorial staff, they are likely here on a work visa, sponsored by the school.”

    Don’t say “likely.” Say possibly. Because it’s just as possible some of their jobs were acquired via the magic of the fake ID industry.

    Thanks to the deluge of millions in a far-too-brief time span, we have added a myriad of unintended consequences to a society that is sputtering under its own weight.

    And as I’ve opined before, overloading a lifeboat may mean one’s heart is in the right place.

    The result is unsustainable madness.

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