Email response From Senator Akaka to my assertion that we need English as the official language in the United States. Minor formating changes were made to make the document more readable. No words were changed (except my address deleted).
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 2:13 PM
Subject: Correspondence From Senator Akaka
March 6, 2007
Dear Mr. (name withheld):
Thank you for sharing your concerns on the importance of designating English as our nation's official language.
It is widely known and accepted that proficiency in English is a prerequisite to succeed in most walks of life in our country. Thus, I believe that "English-only" legislation is unnecessary and would unfairly restrict access to government services for citizens and residents who may not be fully proficient in English, violate the First Amendment rights of government employees and the civil rights of ordinary citizens, increase the costs and reduce the efficiency of federal services, and foster a climate of intolerance toward ethnic and racial minorities.
As Americans, whatever our ethnic heritage, we are unified by the principles embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As long as we share this commitment to free speech, representative democracy, due process, and equal protection under the law, I believe our nation will have the confidence and strength to embrace the many voices and accents of our diverse population.
There are benefits to living in a nation that is multilingual and culturally diverse. Moreover, America needs people who understand foreign cultures and who are fluent in locally-spoken languages. The stability and economic vitality of the United States and our national security depend on American citizens who are knowledgeable about the world. We need civil servants, including law enforcement officers, teachers, area experts, diplomats, and business people with the ability to communicate at an advanced level in the languages and understand the cultures of the people with whom they interact.
Although we disagree on this matter, I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me. Mahalo again for contacting me.
DANIEL K. AKAKA
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