Demonstrating once again the link between racism and English Only politics, the group ProEnglish is promoting U.S. Representative Steve King’s (R-IA) H.R. 97 – a bill that would declare English the official language of the United States and establish language requirements for citizenship.
ProEnglish is using Representative Adrian Smith’s (R-NE) October co-sponsorship of the bill to renew its advocacy. King introduced the bill in 2017, garnering 72 co-sponsors. Smith’s endorsement brings the total to 25 co-sponsors in the current House. The bill has not moved from the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship since March. ProEnglish is also promoting Senator Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) companion bill in the Senate, S.677. Inhofe’s bill has just 3 sponsors.
While these bills are well-stalled in the current Congress, they illustrate the link between the English Only cause and the racist varieties of nationalism on display in current U.S. politics and the halls of government. ProEnglish was founded by John Tanton, the Federation for American Immigration Reform founder who wrote in a 1993 letter to eugenicist Garret Hardin that, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European American society and culture to persist requires a European American majority, and a clear one at that,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Early ProEnglish leader K.C. McAlpin saw “multiculturalists” as his “enemy” and advocated English-Only legislation as a means of introducing anti-immigrant politics to a broader audience. Later ProEnglish staffer Robert Vandervoort was the organizer of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a white nationalist group that allied its cause with the local chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
For his part, Steve King is a notoriously racist U.S. Representative who has praised anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ concern with “demographics” and appeared to defend the idea of white nationalism, among other things.
The English Only effort is an attack on the civil and human rights of immigrants and citizens alike. As with anti-immigrant politics generally, it is also a conduit for carrying white nationalism into the mainstream.