Should English be the official language of the
United States of America?
U.S. ENGLISH, Inc.: Towards a United America
Recognizing that English proficiency is necessary for integration into
the American mainstream, The English Language Unity Act of 2005 would
require the United States government to conduct official business in
English. Specifically, H.R. 997 would limit routine government operations
to English, while giving government agencies common sense flexibility to
protect public health and safety, national security, and to provide for
the needs of commerce and justice systems.
H.R. 997 looks to build on the success of a similar measure in the
108th Congress (also H.R. 997), that received the support of 109 members.
This legislation is also comparable to the “Bill Emerson English Language
Empowerment Act of 1996,” which passed the House by a bi-partisan vote of
259-169 that year.
Read the actual bill
Text of bill -- H.R.997
Write your representatives to support this bill.
To declare English as the official language of the United
States, to establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization,
and to avoid misconstructions of the English language texts of the laws of
the United States, pursuant to Congress's powers to provide for the
general welfare of the United States and to establish a uniform rule of
naturalization under article I, section 8, of the Constitution. Be it
enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `English Language Unity Act of 2005'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds and declares the following:
(1) The United States is comprised of individuals from diverse ethnic,
cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, and continues to benefit from this
(2) Throughout the history of the United States, the common thread binding
individuals of differing backgrounds has been the English language.
(3) Among the powers reserved to the States respectively is the power to
establish the English language as the official language of the respective
States, and otherwise to promote the English language within the
respective States, subject to the prohibitions enumerated in the
Constitution of the United States and in laws of the respective States
SEC. 3. ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE UNITED STATES.
(a) In General- Title 4, United States Code, is amended by adding at the
end the following new chapter: `CHAPTER 6--OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
`Sec. 161. Official language of the United States `The official language
of the United States is English.
`Sec. 162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language
`Representatives of the Federal Government shall have an affirmative
obligation to preserve and enhance the role of English as the official
language of the Federal Government. Such obligation shall include
encouraging greater opportunities for individuals to learn the English
`Sec. 163. Official functions of Government to be conducted in English`
(a) Official Functions- The official functions of the Government of the
United States shall be conducted in English. `(b) Scope- For the purposes
of this section, the term `United States' means the several States and the
District of Columbia, and the term `official' refers to any function that
(i) binds the Government, (ii) is required by law, or (iii) is otherwise
subject to scrutiny by either the press or the public. `(c) Practical
Effect- This section shall apply to all laws, public proceedings,
regulations, publications, orders, actions, programs, and policies, but
does not apply to--`(1) teaching of languages;`(2) requirements under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;`(3) actions, documents, or
policies necessary for national security, international relations, trade,
tourism, or commerce;`(4) actions or documents that protect the public
health and safety;`(5) actions or documents that facilitate the activities
of the Bureau of the Census in compiling any census of population;`(6)
actions that protect the rights of victims of crimes or criminal
defendants; or`(7) using terms of art or phrases from languages other than
`Sec. 164. Uniform English language rule for naturalization `(a) Uniform
Language Testing Standard- All citizens should be able to read and
understand generally the English language text of the Declaration of
Independence, the Constitution, and the laws of the United States made in
pursuance of the Constitution.` (b) Ceremonies- All naturalization
ceremonies shall be conducted in English.
`Sec. 165. Rules of construction `Nothing in this chapter shall be
construed--`(1) to prohibit a Member of Congress or any officer or agent
of the Federal Government, while performing official functions, from
communicating unofficially through any medium with another person in a
language other than English (as long as official functions are performed
in English);`(2) to limit the preservation or use of Native Alaskan or
Native American languages (as defined in the Native American Languages
Act);`(3) to disparage any language or to discourage any person from
learning or using a language; or`(4) to be inconsistent with the
Constitution of the United States
.`Sec. 166. Standing `A person injured by a violation of this chapter may
in a civil action (including an action under chapter 151 of title 28)
obtain appropriate relief.'.(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of chapters
at the beginning of title 4, United States Code, is amended by inserting
after the item relating to chapter 5 the following new item:` Chapter 6.
SEC. 4. GENERAL RULES OF CONSTRUCTION FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEXTS OF THE
LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES. (a) In General- Chapter 1 of title 1, United
States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
`Sec. 8. General rules of construction for laws of the United States` (a)
English language requirements and workplace policies, whether in the
public or private sector, shall be presumptively consistent with the Laws
of the United States; and` (b) Any ambiguity in the English language text
of the Laws of the United States shall be resolved, in accordance with the
last two articles of the Bill of Rights, not to deny or disparage rights
retained by the people, and to reserve powers to the States respectively,
or to the people.'.(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the
beginning of chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by
inserting after the item relating to section 7 the following new item:`8.
General Rules of Construction for Laws of the United States.'
SEC. 5. IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS. The Secretary of Homeland Security
shall, within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, issue for
public notice and comment a proposed rule for uniform testing English
language ability of candidates for naturalization, based upon the
principles that--(1) all citizens should be able to read and understand
generally the English language text of the Declaration of Independence,
the Constitution, and the laws of the United States which are made in
pursuance thereof; and(2) any exceptions to this standard should be
limited to extraordinary circumstances, such as asylum.
SEC. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE.
The amendments made by sections 3 and 4 shall take effect on the date that
is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Please, write your representatives to support having English as our
nation's official language!