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Executive Order 13166 – Overcoming Limited English Proficiency

America has long been known as a melting pot. As such, immigrants are usually expected to assimilate into the native and resident population, and this means learning the English language to such an extent that a new immigrant can make her- or himself understood. The last decade has shown a marked reversal of this trend, and entire populations within the immigrant population have resisted this assimilation and instead have worked hard to retain their customs, ways of living, and also language.

One may feel about this change as one might like, yet the reality remains that the United States is faced with an increasing number of residents who do not speak or understand the English language. In order to help those who have not yet been able to acquire the new language skills, or to assist those who may choose to not learn the language at all, then President Bill Clinton on 08-11-00 signed into law Executive Order 13166 which is entitled as “Improving Access To Services For Persons With Limited English Proficiency.”

The stated goals were for government agencies to provide assistance to non-English speakers so that all residents of this great country can enjoy each and every service offered equally. In addition to the foregoing, the second stated goal was for the government agencies to promote programs that would help non-English speakers to learn the language or improve their command thereof.

While those opposed to this measure have cited the fact that such enablement would not encourage non-English speakers to learn the language but instead simply coddle them into remaining content with the status quo of their inability to understand the language and make themselves understood in it, proponents have poignantly shown that such access will in effect assure equal access to government services and thus remove the discrimination that up to that point was experienced by some immigrants because of their national origin.

It is hard to decide which side of the issue is correct. In a climate where immigration practices are coming under fire because of the perceived leniency with which illegal immigrants are treated which is coupled with an outrage against a rising crime rate which oftentimes can be traced back directly to someone who entered the country illegally, it is not surprising that this Executive Order is once again drawing fire. The fact of the matter remains that if “all men are created equal” they should also be treated equally, whether they speak English, German or Swahili.



Please take a look at your host’s recommendation for those who want to learn more about the human side of illegal immigration:

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