Skip to comments.Texas senator calls man's Spanish-language testimony 'insulting,' tells him to 'speak English'
Posted on 06/17/2011 10:51:59 AM PDT by Ballygrl
A Texas state senator is under fire for telling a man that his Spanish-language testimony was "insulting" during a committee hearing earlier this week.
Republican Chris Harris interrupted Antolin Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition just minutes into his statement against the Lone Star State's new sanctuary cities bill.
The legislation, which was passed by the Senate Wednesday, allows police officers to verify the immigration status of detained suspects.
Harris told Aguirre that he "should be speaking in English."
"Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?" Harris asked. "Why aren't you speaking in English then?"
Aguirre responded through an interpreter that he felt more comfortable speaking in his native language because it was his first time giving a testimony.
"If he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English," the senator fired back.
Harris's comments have reinvigorated a debate over recent immigration legislation in other states that gives police the authority to check a suspect's immigration status.
Alabama passed a bill earlier this month that allows law enforcement officials to detain drivers who have committed a traffic violation if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are in the state illegally.
Politicians there drew inspiration from controversial immigration legislation that was passed in Arizona in April 2010.
Arizona's law required all immigrants to carry immigration documents and gave the police wide liberties to detain suspected immigrants.
Opponents have argued such legislation could lead to widespread discrimination and encourages racial profiling.
The federal court later blocked several of the Arizona law's most contested stipulations.
Harris's spokesperson, Kristen Webb, supported the senator's outburst in a written statement issued after the hearing, according to KHOU 11 News.
"Senator Harris' comments were in no way intended to be derogatory," Webb wrote. "He continues to support the passage of SB 9 which will prevent Texas cities from directly or indirectly harboring illegal immigrants. This legislation creates a uniform standard across the state that will make Texas safer."
Texas's House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill next week.
There's also a poll at the link, the results so far:
Do you agree with Sen. Harris that speaking Spanish during a committee hearing is 'insulting'?
Yes, if the person testifying knows English...then he or she should speak in English. 76%
No, the person testifying should be able to speak in whatever language they want. 22%
I'm not sure. 2%
IMO, all the morons who are complaining about this courageous Senator’s comments are the problem in this country.
In my opinion, the 22% who said speaking Spanish while testifying is okay and the 2% that polled “I’m not sure” are, obviously, Liberals and a national disgrace who have no brain cells functioning!
Can I give my testimony in Pig-latin? How about Klingon?
I agree. It isn’t like he is some kind of foreign diplomat or couldn’t speak the language. He was making a political point. I’m glad the Texas Senator called him out. Been here since 1988 and still isn’t comfortable speaking the language?
“ENGLISH, mo*#$&@*&r!!! Do you speak it?”
GIMMEgrants are exempt.
My parents came to this country nearly 50 years ago from a Spanish speaking country, and you can be damn sure that they learned English as best they could within a few years time. They still both speak with a Spanish accent, but that’s just how it goes. Their English is better than many native English speakers today.
It is called pandering. If I were Hispanic, I would be insulted that the Democrapic Party would think that I am moronic compared to the countless Asian and Eastern European immigrants before them who learned English.
Texas can do this. Other lands taken by from Mexico in the war of 18146-8 —lands that are now California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado & Utah were gained by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and in the treaty it said that in these lands everything would be English and Spanish. BUT Texas was not listed so there no legal restrictions on English Only policy. So there is a fig leaf of a right to Spanish in these states and these states only. At least that’s my read on the treaty.
This rep was wrong, dead wrong!
He has been here for twenty-three years and still doesn’t know English well enough to use it in public.
This is a great example of what the Left and so-called “moderates” think of as assimilation.
I rest my case.
The guy was speaking Spanish because he WAS NOT speaking to the Senator, but giving the Local Univision Network sound bites. He couldn’t have cared less if the Senator understood him, he wasn’t the targeted audience.
Once you understand how these people work, it makes understanding why they do what they do much easier.
Good for the senator.
Could you explain that?
I have no problem with people who have an accent, the fact that they at least try and communicate in English is important.
My Grandmother, Father's side,came over from Lithuania before WW1. Although heavily inflected,she learned English right away a would only let her children speak English at home. They did learn Lithuanian but only as a second language.
Why do all these new foreigners think they must buck about 200 years of our history? Division will bring this country down.
The headline makes it sound like this guy was demanding a spanish speaker speak English in his presence, only when you read the story you find out that he was only upset because the speaker was here for 23 years without bothering to learn the language.
I’m an immigrant, I came here with my parents, who were around 35 years old when we came here, probably older than the guy who needs an interpreter, yet there is no way they would ever ask for one or even need one. We came here, understood Americans speak English and then did our best to become Americans. No hyphens, no special interest designation, AMERICANS!