Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Should immigrants be sentenced to learn English?

A Hispanic man, charged with driving under the influence in Indiana, was sentenced recently to perform community service – by taking English classes.

The idea may be catching on in courtrooms across the country. Last month, a judge in Pasco County, Florida, ordered a Mexican couple accused of alcohol abuse and domestic violence to learn English or risk having their children taken away.

But the concept isn’t without controversy. In 2005, a Tennessee judge warned a Miztec-speaking woman from Mexico that if she didn't learn English, ''she's running the risk of losing any connection — legally, morally and physically — with her daughter forever.'' The Southern Poverty Law Center represented the mother in that case, and the girl was returned to her mother.

Judges routinely order defendants to take all kinds of classes, including parenting, anger management and GED courses, so sending them to English classes seems like a good idea. But taking away someone’s children because of language skills (or the lack thereof) is an inappropriate use of the coercive power of the American legal system.

Read the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette article here and the St. Petersburg Times story here.

Thanks to Have Opinion, Will Travel for the link.


At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Rachel S said...

That's ridiculous. The problem is not the language--it's the crime.

I guess there are folks who want to make not speaking English a crime, but that's for another post.


Post a Comment

<< Home