North Carolina representatives are set to bring forth Bill 475 in the North Carolina General Assembly which calls for an amendment to the state constitution, that would make English the official language of the state. However, English is already the official language of the state and has been since 1987.  Twenty four years ago, a statute was passed declaring English the official language of the state and is still present in the books, according to the state Legislative Library.

The new amendment has left several groups bewildered as to why Representatives feel the need to bring such a bill to the General Assembly when other issues such as the economy, education, and housing are more prevalent.

A Latino advocacy group, El Pueblo plans to speak out against the bill. Pablo Escobar spoke with news reporters on Monday, and said he believes that such a law would send a signal to people who speak other languages “that your heritage and the language you speak in your homes is not important.” However, Representatives plan to continue with their agenda.

Section 1 of Bill 475 reads as follows:

Article XIV of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding a new section to read:
Sec.  6. English is the official language of North Carolina.

(1)    English is the common language of the people of the United States of America and the state of North Carolina. This section is intended to preserve, protect, and strengthen the English language and not supersede any of the rights guaranteed to the people by the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of North Carolina.

One of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Kelly Hastings told reporters on Monday that he wants to see the language receive protection in the State constitution. Hastings also made sure to make it known that the bill has no intent to discriminate against other languages and people.

The United States has seen an influx of Hispanic and Asian immigration to the country over the past years and many adjustments have been made to cater to language barriers that may persist once certain minorities groups reach the country.

According to the 2000 US Census, eight percent of the North Carolina population was reported speaking other languages in the home. Four percent were reported to not speak English very well. According to the Fall enrollment report, there are 2,691 International students, 1,008 unknown, 1,065 Hispanic students, and 1,640 Asian students. There were no statistics present which detail the percentages of students which reported that they speak other languages in the home.

By making English the official language of the state in the constitution, this could potentially mean that official documents would only be required to be printed in a single language. Election ballots may only be required to be printed in English and translators might not be required in court cases which might be grounds of violating several amendments in the constitution such as equal protection and due process.

In order for the bill to be passed, a referendum will be required to be taken up by voters in the November 2012 elections. The outcome of this bill could have a tremendous impact on many populations present in the state as well as students on this campus.