Kudos to Jackson, New York, 2,500 miles from the Mexican border!
'Adapt to our ways!' Tiny U.S. town forces all business to be conducted in English amid fears of Spanish tidal wave
By David Gardner
A small American town 2,500 miles away from the Mexican border has designated English as its official language.
Jackson is in New York state and its population of 1,700 is mostly white with just a handful of Spanish-speaking farm workers.
But inhabitants were determined to protect their English-speaking heritage after condemning the federal government for not acting.
Immigration wars: Migrants' rights supporters at a rally (file photo). A small New York town has passed a law ordering English to be used for all town business as supporters of Arizona's draconian immigration policy try to change America from the ground up
The legislation means that all official business in the town, which has no shops, school or church, must be conducted in English.
Council member Roger Meyer, who proposed the law, said: 'The federal government has shirked its duty by not passing English as the official language of the United States.
'I felt I would start a grass-roots movement to try to get it passed from the bottom up.'
One neighbouring town, Argyle, has passed a similar resolution while another, Easton, will debate the issue next month.
Supporters claim the moves highlight support for bolder action to curb immigration and preserve the culture which many fear is under threat in some states.
Meanwhile heated debate is being waged over Arizona’s controversial decision to grant police new laws to quiz people they suspect of being in the country illegally.
But supporters claim it underlines the undercurrent of support for bolder action to curb immigration and preserve the language and culture that many fear are under threat in parts of the US.
The small American town of Jackson in New York State
Despite a wave of condemnation levelled at Arizona – with Los Angeles yesterday banning all official business with the state – a new opinion poll found that 59 per cent of Americans supported the crackdown.
Even in Jackson, where nobody really believes there is a serious threat of a sudden flood of immigrants, town officials felt it necessary to make a stand.
‘People come here because it’s better than the place they were in,’ Mr Meyer told the New York Times. ‘If that’s the case, you should be adapting yourself to our ways. We shouldn’t be adapting to your ways.’
However, the law has put the town at odds with the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is demanding the law is repealed.
‘The English language is not under attack in Jackson or anywhere else in the state or country,’ said union director Melanie Trimble.
The civil rights group said the law was a threat to free speech and discriminated against anyone with limited English skills.
Alan Brown, the town supervisor and the only council member to vote against the measure, insisted: ‘The law would play to some people’s prejudices and I don’t think that’s a good thing.
‘This law didn’t pop up because someone has interest in and sympathy for the fact that we’ve always done our meetings in English.
‘What is a human’s greatest fear? It’s fear of whatever, of death, of terrorism, fear of what we don’t understand. We’re all afraid of the unknown. My opinion is that this is just adding to all of that,’ he added.