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Statement on S. Amendment 4046 to S. 2611
Senator Michael B. Enzi
May 18, 2006

Mr. President, I rise in support of an amendment introduced by my colleague from Oklahoma, Senator Inhofe.

I firmly believe a common language promotes unity among citizens and fosters greater communication. Establishing a national language would save the government the expensive and time-consuming task of preparing documents in many languages.

A recent Zogby poll showed 84 percent of our population believes that English should be the official language of our government. Twenty-seven U.S. states have already made English the official language, including Louisiana which agreed to it as a condition of statehood. My home state of Wyoming made English the official language of the state in 1996. Fifty-one nations also have English as their official language, but the United States does not. It is time that we have a clear statement on our national language.

This amendment also addresses the important issue of English proficiency for new citizens. On May 15, 2006, President Bush addressed the nation about the needed reform of our current immigration situation. He stressed the positive role that the English language has for new citizens. Many improvements need to be made to the current process that our new citizens go through. I am pleased that this amendment creates a set of goals for updates to the new citizen exam. Some of the goals are demonstration of sufficient understanding of English usage in everyday life and an understanding of American common values. These common values include the principles of our U.S. Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and the significance of our American flag. The goals will help new citizens better understand our nation and become productive members of our society.

Senator Inhofe’s amendment is a good strong statement in support of English as our national language and the importance of sharing this common value with new citizens. I have worked on legislation that would establish English as the official language of the United States government during my service here in the U.S. Senate and in the Wyoming State Legislature and I encourage all Senators to support this important amendment to the immigration reform bill.

I yield the floor.