English as an official language has gained momentum as proponents keep going to the ballot box with measures that discourage bilingual ballots, notices and documents.
Thirty states now have laws specifying that official government communications be in English, says U.S. English Inc., a group that promotes the laws. This year such bills are under consideration in 19 legislatures.
"It's multiplying tremendously," says Mauro Mujica, a Chilean immigrant and chairman and CEO of U.S. English. "We've made huge progress."
Critics do not see progress. Some say the increase in the measures sends a hostile message to newcomers. "It just poisons the atmosphere in local communities," says John Trasviña, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Typically, the proposed laws require that documents, ballots and other communications be published in English. Exempt are communications to protect public health and safety or efforts to promote tourism.
•In May, the Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill making English the state's official language. It is now before the state Senate.
•In April, the Oklahoma House passed a bill requiring the majority of state business to be conducted in English. It is before the Senate.
•Missouri will decide this fall on an amendment to the constitution requiring English for "all official proceedings."
Advocates of the law say they're not suggesting that English be the only language spoken but that it be the only language used in dealing with government.