Arizona Court Keeps Mexican Candidate off Ballots over English Skills
The U.S. state of Arizona seems to be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Supreme Court of the state declared this Thursday that a candidate was ineligible to run for city council because she lacked satisfactory English skills. The attorney of the candidate has confirmed that they do not have sufficient resources to lodge an appeal.
Thirty-five year old Alejandrina Cabrera, the favorite candidate for the city council of San Luis, a predominantly Spanish-speaking town, was disqualified from candidacy over her unsatisfactory English skills. In a brief ruling covering only two pages, the Supreme Court of Arizona refrained from citing the reason why it agreed with the lower court but said that a written verdict would soon follow.
The primary reason for disqualifying Cabrera was that a "large gap" existed between the English proficiency needed to serve as a public figure and her English proficiency. Little known it was to the Superior Court judge at the Yuma County that he would spark a cultural controversy by disqualifying Cabrera.
The decision has received a lot of negative publicity in San Luis and the neighboring towns. The local townspeople have demanded an explanation for the ruling calling it a deliberate act against the fundamentals of democracy and a breach of the Constitution. It is also expected to force the federal government to reconsider the importance of English language to national identity.
Amidst all the commotion, a number of moderates have supported the decision citing that American government offices need candidates who speak a common tongue as it promotes national unity. America has enjoyed a long tradition of linguistic amalgamation by a new generation of Americans.
During an interview with Reuters some time back, Cabrera modestly admitted that she did not employ great command of the English language although she can read, write, speak and understand English well. Although Cabrera spoke with passion and intensity on pressing issues, she would use the wrong tense at times or mix up words.
However, immigrant and human rights activists say that the decision is not conducive of secularism and goes against the teaching of the Constitutions and the equal opportunities act. Other public figures have called on the court to reconsider the decision in the light of public outrage saying that a language-based restriction may be seen as a direct attack on immigrants.
Another possible reason to explain the sudden and powerful outrage from the local populace may be the recent decision by the government to crack down on illegal immigrants. Whatever the case, Cabrera has reserved her comments thus far although her attorney has confirmed she will make a public statement on Wednesday, 15th February.