Applicants to the University of Texas (UT), among potentially many other schools, can benefit from affirmative action if English is not spoken in the applicant’s home.This is an easy opportunity for Governor Rick Perry to do something — but given his track record, there is only a predictable silence.
This little-noticed feature of the UT admissions program was buried in last year’s Supreme Court decision, Fisher v. University of Texas. As the Fisher majority explained, students can reap the rewards of preferences for “speaking a language other than English at home.”
Several legal experts find this form of preference questionable, if not unconstitutional.
“It discourages assimilation,” Gail Heriot, a University of San Diego law professor, says. By potentially rewarding applicants from families that do not speak English precisely because they have not linguistically assimilated, the preference seems to run against the grain of the American immigration ethos...
[A]dmissions policies could credit bilingual applicants on the basis of their bilingual ability, without reference to the language spoken at home. It is the explicit preference for homes where English is not spoken that raises critics’ concerns. By offering preferences on the basis of the students’ home environment, UT’s policy is in effect rewarding students from families that refuse or are unable to learn and speak English.
[Affirmative Action Granted for Non-English University Students, by John Bennett, Newsmax, September 12, 2014]