"During committee testimony this week in Austin, a Texas senator interrupted a Spanish speaker telling him he should "be speaking in English" during a committee hearing.Which is the kind of helpful question you should be asking witnesses at these things, since it speaks to the issue of immigrant assimilation. But the KTRH headline is â€?Why Arenâ€™t You Speaking English?â€? | A Texas senator is receiving praise and criticism.
Antolin Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition was testifying against Senate Bill 9 that would help crack down on illegal immigrants in Texas.Â Aguirre spoke through an interpreter even though he had been in the U.S. since 1988.
Two minutes into Antolin Aguirre's testimony, Sen. Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, interrupted asking Aguirre's interrupter, [sic, they mean interpreter]"Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?" Harris asked. "Why aren't you speaking in English then?"
KTRH doesn't actually quote any critics, but if you watch the YouTube clip, you'll see the Chairman say that Senators are "entitled to be speaking their personal point of view, and may not be speaking for everyone."
However, the Austin American-Statesman editorialized Curb the intolerance, por favor, June 15, 2011, and there's a lot more like that in Google News.
Now, here's the problem. Not only is it unnecessary for Mr. Aguirre to testify in Spanish—he was reading a prepared statement, for crying out loud—it takes twice as long to hear his testimony. And that's not the only problem. KTRH quoted Harris as saying
"It is insulting to us," Sen. Harris fired back. "It is very insulting. And if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English."Was it an insult? At the time, Aguirre said, through his interpreter, that Spanish is his "first language and since it is his first time giving testimony he would rather do it in Spanish."
In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bud Kennedy writes "The speaker, Antolin Aguirre, a 23-year U.S. resident, said Thursday by phone that he could have spoken English but chose Spanish 'for the audience.'" [Immigration opponent is blind to Texas' demographics, June 16, 2011]
Email Antolin Aquirre and ask him.