Backers and opponents of a bill that would designate English as Iowa’s official language gathered at the statehouse last night for a rally and a public hearing. U-S English chairman Mauro Mujica says 110 different languages are spoken in Iowa, and it’s important to maintain a common language. Mujica says immigrants should be encourage to learn English to become part of the country so they can become true, new Americans.Opponents of the bill, like Lana Ross of the United Methodist Church, say it makes Iowa look unwelcoming to immigrants. Ross says it’s “mistreating and oppressive” to immigrants who chose to come to Iowa.Mujica says opponents of the bill want to keep immigrants in “linguistic slavery.” He says there needs to be more money for English as a second language classes. Ross says the bill is a slap at immigrants. She says the people that wrote the bill probably didn’t intend it to be offensive, but it has turned out that way.Mujica, an architect who speaks four languages and is learning Russian, came to the U-S in 1964 to go to college. Mujica says he knew before he came to the U-S he knew he would have to learn to speak English. He also says that most immigrants come from countries that have an official language.Twenty-six of the 50 states have declared “English” as their official language, and Mujica hopes Congress eventually declares English the country’s official language.
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