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Abstract

In the past few years attempts to protect the official status of the English language in American life have appeared in a variety of local and national contexts. At the local level, voters in Dade County, Florida, renounced official bilingualism in 1980, replacing it with a prohibition on government use or support of foreign languages. In July, 1983, workers in Elizabeth, NewJersey, were ordered to speak only English while on the job. In November, 1984, voters in California approved a proposition which urged a return to English-only ballots in the state by a 71-29 margin. In all, five states have designated English their official language, Virginia as recently as 1981. At the federal level, an early version of the proposed Immigration Reform and Control Act contained a declaration that "the English language is the official language of the United States," while the version of the Immigration and Reform Act that died with the 98th Congress included a requirement that applicants for legalization be either proficient in the English language or pursuing a recognized course of English language study.

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