Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver supports a repeal of the Iowa law that declares English the state’s official language. But Culver opposes a move to let illegal immigrants pay in-state college tuition to go to Iowa, Iowa State or UNI. “We need to work on enforcing the current immigration laws and illegal is illegal,” Culver says.

While Culver opposes that financial help for college which is sought by many minority activists, Culver backs the move to do away with what those activists call the “English Only” law. Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, signed the “official English” bill into law. Culver says he’ll “fight” to get rid of that law. “It sends the wrong message,” Culver says. “And the governor says, in retrospect, has said that he wished he hadn’t signed it.”

Polls indicate a majority of Americans — and Iowans — support laws designating English as the official language. Culver says he’s willing to go against the majority view. “You know what, as governor you have to do what you think is right and I believe most Iowans want to be fair and equitable,” Culver says. “All of us are immigrants. My family came here in 1861. I’m a fifth-generation Iowan…I think it is important to repeal the English Only law.”

Culver met this (Thursday) morning with a group of Hispanic activists in Des Moines. Mary Campos, a long-time Democratic party activist who’s co-chair of the Iowa Brown and Black Coalition, welcomes Culver’s action. “An ‘English Only’ bill is something we don’t need,” Campos says. “I was born in this country and I’m blessed to be able to speak two languages and I don’t want to lose that ability for me or my children or my grandchildren or my great-grandchildren or future citizens of Iowa.”

Nussle campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella says Culver’s call for repealing the “official English” law shows he is “out of touch with Iowans.” Nussle supports the law. On the issue of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, Nussle and Culver agree that it should not be state policy.