Salt Lake City Resolution against English Only legislation

The Salt Lake City Council passed the following resolution in November 1997. The Ogden City Council passed a similar resolution in December 1997.

English Plus Resolution

WHEREAS, English is the language of Salt Lake City and all residents recognize the importance of English to the viability of the City; and

WHEREAS, many residents of Salt Lake City speak native languages other than English, including languages indigenous to Utah, and these linguistic resources should be conserved and developed; and

WHEREAS, Salt Lake City was founded on a commitment to democratic principles, and not on racial or ethnic homogeneity, and has drawn strength from a diversity of languages and cultures and from a respect for individual liberties; and

WHEREAS, many Salt Lake City residents are multilingual due to their participation in the extensive worldwide missionary work of the LDS Church whose members, among others, founded this city; and

WHEREAS, multilingualism promotes greater cross-cultural understanding between different racial and ethnic groups in Salt Lake City; and

WHEREAS, multilingualism is a tremendous resource to Salt Lake City and such resources encourage businesses to locate here and assists Salt Lake City companies to more easily expand their reach into the international market; and

WHEREAS, Salt Lake City will "welcome the world" here for the 2002 Winter Olympics; and

WHEREAS, there is no threat to the status of English in the United States or Salt Lake City, as it is spoken by 94 percent of United States residents, according to the 1990 United State Census, and only 14.6 percent of Salt Lake City residents over the age of five speak a language other than English at home, and there is no need to designate any official United States language or adopt similar restrictionist legislation; and

WHEREAS, "English-only" measures, or proposals to designate English as the sole official language of Utah, would violate traditions of cultural pluralism, divide communities along ethnic lines, jeopardize the provision of law enforcement, public health, education, and other vital services to those whose English is limited, impair government efficiency, and the City's international competitiveness; and

WHEREAS, such "English only" measures would represent an unwarranted regulation of self-expression, abrogate constitutional rights to freedom of expression and equal protection of the laws, violate international human rights treaties to which the United States is a signatory and contradict the spirit of the 1923 Supreme Court case Meyer v. Nebraska, wherein the Court declared that "The protection of the Constitution extends to all; to those who speak other languages as well as to those born with English on the tongue"; and

WHEREAS, Utah was part of Mexico until the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo of 1848 wherein the United States insured protection of former Mexican citizens, made United States residents by the treaty, and protected their linguistic rights to continue to speak Spanish; and

WHEREAS, the Utah Legislature may consider legislation designating English as the official language for government business; and

WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives is considering supporting a similar "English Plus" measure.

NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Salt Lake City Mayor and City Council should pursue policies that --

1. encourage all residents of this City to become fully proficient in English by expanding educational opportunities and access to information technologies;

2. conserve and develop Salt Lake City's linguistic resources by encouraging all residents of this City to learn or maintain skills in a language other than English;

3. assist Native Americans and other peoples indigenous to Salt Lake City in their efforts to prevent the extinction of their languages and cultures;

4. continue to provide services in languages other than English as needed to facilitate access to essential functions of government, promote public health and safety, ensure due process, promote equal educational opportunity, and protect fundamental rights; and

5. Recognize the importance of multilingualism to vital American interests and individual rights, and oppose "English-only" measures and other restrictionist language measures.

Deedee Corradini, Mayor Deeda Seed, Chair M. Bryce Jolley, Vice Chair Lee Martinez, District One Joanne R. Milner, District Two Mary H. Mark, District Three Tom Godfrey, District Five Keith S. Christensen

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