Latin American Association (LAA) – Media Release: The Latin American Association Opposes House Bill 72

LAA Press Release

To: ALL MEDIA

DATE: Feb. 8, 2010

FROM: Sarah Marske, LAA Communications and Public Relations Manager

TEL: 404-471-1892                                    Email: smarske@thelaa.org

The Latin American Association Opposes House Bill 72

ATLANTA (Jan. 14, 2010) – Some 60,000 legally admitted residents and US citizens take the driver’s license exam in a language other than English each year in Georgia. In order to be granted a driver’s license, these individuals must fulfill the main goal of the Department of Driver Services:  demonstrate that they fully understand driver responsibility, knowledge of laws and safe driving practices. These individuals also must demonstrate sufficient English to pass the street sign test and the driving test which are alwa! ys admin istered in English.

Acquiring a second language as an adult is a slow process. Many experts estimate 600 to 2000 hours of study to become proficient in a language. Adults who are working, caring for families, or studying may take a couple of years of night classes before they are proficient. In the meantime, they must still drive to work, take their children to the doctor, shop for groceries, and go to class.

The state itself is in conflict. At the same time that legislators are proposing House Bill 72 which would impact those who are learning English, the Georgia Department of Economic Development is actively seeking international companies to invest and relocate to Georgia. We must be clear:  if we are to be successful in attracting international companies and investment, Georgia must have policies that support and welcome international employees, their families and students.

The Latin American Association (LAA) is a nonprofit organization that helps Latino families and individuals transition successfully into their new community. The LAA offers English language classes mornings, evenings, and weekends. Last year, 2,004 adults attended our classes. The majority of these students study at night after a full day’s work and arrive home after 9 pm. They are learning English. Let’s support them while they do.

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About The Latin American Association:
The Latin American Association helps Latino families achieve their aspirations for academic, social and economic advancement. We accomplish this through direct programs and integrated community partnerships that focus on youth academic achievement, education and prevention, and services to families with urg! ent need s. The LAA offers employment, immigration and translation services, as well as programs for youth, computer classes, parenting classes, and English and Spanish language classes.  Visit www.thelaa.org for more information.

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