Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle says it would be a mistake to repeal the state law which declares English the official language in Iowa.
Nussle says it’s time for like-minded people to stop apologizing for telling immigrants it’s important to learn English. “To say to people that you can survive in our society these days without recognizing that English is the foundation of your success in many respects is really, I think, a mistake,” Nussle says.
Out-going Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, has said he regrets signing the bill into law. Last week Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver said he’d “fight” to repeal the law. This (Tuesday) morning Nussle told students at Des Moines Community College he’ll fight to keep it. “There’s actually a move to remove English as our official language,” Nussle said. A few students interrupted him by applauding. “Applaud all you want. That’s fine if you’d like to do that, go ahead. I don’t know who you’re doing a service for. I disagree with that and it’s not because I want you to lose your language. I speak my family’s language. I learned that in the home. I’m very proud of that. It’s helped keep my culture.”
Nussle speaks Danish. Nussle told the students he would increase state funding for English language classes for recent immigrants if he’s elected governor because learning English is crucial. “We can’t be apologetic about that. I think for too long we’ve said: ‘You know, you can go ahead and not learn English. It isn’t the official language. We want to be, you know, multilingual,'” Nussle said. “I think it’s important for us to recognize that (having immigrants learn English) has to be a committment that we have to make and that we encourage others to make.”
Culver, Nussle’s Democratic rival, said last week that naming English Iowa’s official language sent “the wrong message” to immigrants that they’re not welcome here. Polls have shown a majority of Iowans support laws designating English as the state’s official language.