AALAC Appalled by Re-Introduction of English-Only Driver License Bill

 

AALAC appalled by the re-introduction of English-Only driver license bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   January 26, 2011

CONTACT:     Helen Kim Ho, Executive Director

404.232.5219 | helen@aalegal.org

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AALAC is appalled by the re-introduction of another English-only driver license bill which is almost identical to Senate Bill 67 the driver license bill that was defeated during the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions.  House Bill 72 (HB 72) was filed this week by Representatives James Mills (R, Dist. 25) and Timothy Bearden (R, Dist. 68).  Representative Mills was a co-sponsor of SB 67.

“The citizens of Georgia made it abundantly clear that an English-only driver license bill was bad for our state, but apparently some legislators are not listening,” said Helen Kim Ho, Executive Director of AALAC.  During the 2010 legislative session, an unprecedented coalition of 41 mostly Asian American organizations representing business associations, Chambers of Commerce, advocacy and social services groups signed a joint press release urging the legislature not to pass SB 67.

HB 72 proposes eliminating the ability to take the permanent driver license examination in a language other than English.  HB 72 also includes a limitation for temporary license holders who will not be allowed to take the temporary driver test in a language other than English if they have held a temporary license for a combined total period of 10 years.

“Asian Americans are an integral part of our state, both socially and economically,” said Ho.  “Our business and community leaders are united against such a bill because Limited English Proficient (LEP) Asian American citizens and legal residents of Georgia stand to hurt the most if HB 72 is passed.”  All LEP individuals applying for a permanent driver license must already prove a basic level of English proficiency and pass the road sign test in English.  Only the written portion of the permanent test is offered in 13 languages, 7 of which are Asian languages.  Two of the top 3 languages requested are Korean and Japanese.

In addition to the harm posed towards LEP citizens and legal residents of Georgia, HB 72 violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which requires agencies that receive federal funding to provide reasonable accommodations to significant LEP populations, or risk losing federal dollars.

“While we are in the throes of one of the worst economies ever, and in the face of a $1.3 billion state budget shortfall, we need our legislators to focus on proposing laws that will help and not hurt jobs and our economy,” said Ho.  Asian American leaders are particularly concerned about the growing “anti-immigrant” image of Georgia and the inevitable impact that this image will have on our state’s ability to attract, recruit and retain Asian foreign business development.

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The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, Inc.’s mission is to protect and promote the civil, social and economic rights of Asian Americans in Georgia and the Southeast through public policy, legal education, community organizing and leadership development.  AALAC’s vision is a social movement in the Southeast where individuals are fully empowered, actively engaged in civic life, and working together to promote equity and fair treatment for all.  To learn more, visit www.aalegal.org.

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