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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
English-Only Debate; Interview With Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo
Aired October 1, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: This is the issue that makes people crazy. If you're going to live in the United States, you need to speak English. It's the issue and the debate that, tonight, we're bringing OUT IN THE OPEN.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Why won't they speak English? Why are we talking to them in Spanish? Should English be the official language? Si or no?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A battle like this, what does it do to a city?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tears it apart.
SANCHEZ: We will take you to a U.S. city where all official business is in Spanish. We will bring you Tom Tancredo.
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been as critical as I possibly can be.
SANCHEZ: And then there's Miami. Does anybody speak English there? One nation, one language -- tonight, the debate is OUT IN THE OPEN.
Also, police battling lawyers? And it gets bloody.
And a nuclear plant goes offline for good.
SANCHEZ: Hi, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.
There are people in this country getting downright angry about this language issue. So, tonight, we're going to try and tackle this thing head on. I mean, listen, this could be you at a supermarket trying to buy something, but nobody there speaks English, so you can't talk to them. Or maybe from the other side, it could be you being told that because your parents don't speak any English, they shouldn't be allowed to receive any social services.
Now, this is a real deal. It's what people are arguing about all over the country right now. And really it goes deep into the American psyche. It's so much that it's being reflected in many of the polls that they're taking right now. In fact, I have got one to show you. Let's see if we can break this down for you. Let's go over here. Look at this. This is 1965. They asked Americans a very simple question. Should people who cannot read or write English be allowed to vote in this country? The answer back then 48/48, pretty much split. Now, look how things have changed.
Jeff, move over just a bit. This is a more recent poll, 2006, when they asked the same question. Americans are now saying no. It's very different; 53 percent are saying, no, they should not be allowed to vote in this country if they don't speak English. And they're saying that there should probably be more of an official language. Only 41 percent on the other side. A lot of people out there say one nation, one language, and the language has to be English.
But is anybody really trying to buck that trend? That's another good question.
Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo says, yes. He says they are trying to buck that trend. And he tends to say that they're doing it for a specific reason. He's running for president, in large measure, by the way, on that argument. Also with us is Miguel Perez. He is a syndicated columnist and professor of journalism at Lehman College who will for the most part disagree, I believe.
All right, Tom Tancredo, let's get started with you.
What do you think is fueling the resentment that we just saw demonstrated in that graphic, that poll that I just showed our viewers THE SITUATION ROOM?
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rick, I'm sorry, but, at the first part of this, I could not hear what you were saying. But I can tell you that there is certainly a great deal of concern and criticism out there about the fact that we are becoming essentially a bilingual nation and nobody is doing anything to try to stop it.
I agree that that is not a good idea. I believe that, first of all, in order to be able to vote, a person should have to understand the debate that leads up to that vote. So, yes, you should have to speak English in order to vote. You're supposed to have speak English to become a citizen.
SANCHEZ: Do you agree with the poll; you agree that it's going too far in the direction of Spanish?
Miguel Perez, you're here to say probably that it's really not as much as big a deal as the congressman is making it out to be?
MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No, senor. (SPEAKING SPANISH) Not at all.
(LAUGHTER) PEREZ: Listen, what is heating this debate is people unfortunately like the congressman who are dividing this country, in my opinion, because I don't think that we should be concerned about knowledge, about knowing other languages.
All over this world people want to learn and speak several languages. In this country, some of us have this narrow mentality that we should only speak English and English only. It's detrimental to our future.
SANCHEZ: Let's leave it there.
I am going to pick you guys up in just a little bit. But would you believe that there is now a city in the United States where the official business is done in, guess what language we're talking about here?
Tom Tancredo, what language do you think that is?
TANCREDO: I know there's one that is doing it in Spanish.
SANCHEZ: Spanish. You're absolutely right.
We're talking the official language, folks. And that's getting to a lot of people and it's making them really angry about this. It's Spanish.
Here now is a revealing and what most would consider to be an important story by CNN's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hola. Hi. How are you?
(voice-over): If you want to find what you're looking for in El Cenizo, more than just a little bit of Espanol goes a long way.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Habla Espanol o Ingles?
CONSUELO REYNERA, RESIDENT OF EL CENIZO, TEXAS: Both.
(voice-over): Consuelo Reynera works the cash register in this border town's only grocery store.
(on camera): Most of your customers hear, do they speak Spanish?
REYNERA: They speak Spanish, yes.
LAVANDERA: No English?
REYNERA: They do speak English a little bit.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): El Cenizo is a small Texas town of 6,500 people overlooking the Rio Grande. It's not unusual for people down here to speak Spanish and English. Nearly everyone does. But El Cenizo is different. It officially conducts all of its city business in Spanish.
(on camera): I'm looking for the mayor. I don't know...
(voice-over): Today, the town is led by a 24-year-old mayor whose first language is English. He personally translates meeting agendas into Spanish.
(on camera): So, do you have a stack in English and a stack in Spanish?
RAUL REYES, MAYOR OF EL CENIZO, TEXAS: Mm-hmm.
LAVANDERA: And, at end of the meeting, which stack is empty?
REYES: This one.
LAVANDERA: And these are all just kind of still sitting -- the English ones are still sitting there, and the Spanish ones are gone?
REYES: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Reyes says this was nothing more than a dusty border outpost until 1999, but, now, with the city and its people speaking the same language, streets are paved. There's a police force and a fire station.
REYES: Well, there's like good, positive things happening. And you get to that with the support and the collaboration of the residents that reside in this...
LAVANDERA (on camera): And do you think that happened because city business here is conducted in Spanish?
REYES: That's right. You know, we speak their language.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Most of El Cenizo's residents are Mexican-Americans here legally. Reyes says, since city council meetings are conducted in Spanish, more people participate.
(on camera): What do you say to those people who say, you know, by God, this is the United States; you need to speak English?
REYES: No, I agree. There's no doubt in anybody's mind that, if you want to prosper and you want to get a good job, you need to learn how to speak English.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): And having Spanish as the official language isn't all that makes this town unique. It also considers itself a safe haven for illegal immigrants. A local ordinance prohibits city employees from turning in illegal immigrants.
Angry threats poured in after El Cenizo made those changes. And they haven't stopped. But Police Chief Juan Alejandro says the attacks are senseless.
JUAN ALEJANDRO, EL CENIZO, TEXAS, POLICE CHIEF: And, if people get upset by it, then so be it. So be it. Get upset, because you're not here. You're not in this situation, and you're not helping us.
LAVANDERA: People here like to joke that the official language should be Spanglish, a little bit of both languages, so everyone can understand.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Cenizo, Texas.
SANCHEZ: Let's bring Miguel Perez back into this argument, as well as Congressman Tom Tancredo.
I understand that your argument is that people should speak a lot of different languages. And I think most people get that. But isn't it a matter of respect? Isn't it disrespectful to have a city in the United States where the official language, not just the spoken language, the official language is Spanish?
PEREZ: It's disrespectful to speak a foreign language in front of people who don't understand you. I agree with that. I think we should be courteous in that sense. Some people automatically think that you're talking about them, whether you are or not.
SANCHEZ: Right. Yes, but, no, let's go back to the question of the official language.
PEREZ: The official -- I don't agree with that. I think it was a stupid mistake on their part, because it gives the people who are against us immigrants, against us Latinos in this country ammunition.
SANCHEZ: The takeover mentality?
PEREZ: Yes. I don't agree. But let's remember that this is a border town. This is not happening all over the country. This is a border town where most of the people there, the overwhelming majority, speak more Spanish than they do English, because most of them are Mexican. They are recent arrivals from Mexico. But many of them are illegal.
But again this is a unique case and I think even though it was a unique case, it was dumb of them to do it.
SANCHEZ: Congressman Tom Tancredo, a lot of the folks down around the border would say, look, we never crossed the border, sir. The border crossed us. You have heard that argument before. What do you say to folks who say that?
(CROSSTALK) TANCREDO: First of all, I think that they're right.
Miguel is saying that it's a unique situation. Perhaps today, Miguel, but it's certainly not going to be unique in 10 years from today.
PEREZ: Scare tactics.
TANCREDO: Because that's exactly what's happening.
The problem is a matter of numbers. And when you say that we all should speak many languages, I totally agree with you. My wife taught Russian in public schools 24 years. We're all for foreign language, foreign language education.
I wish everybody were bilingual or multilingual. I wish I were. But I'll tell you what. That's not what we're not talking about here for the nation. We're talking about a nation that needs something that holds us together, a glue, Miguel, that holds all people together, regardless of where they came from, regardless of what they spoke before, the culture that they came from. Something in this nation has to hold us together.
And you know what that is? It's called the language, English, that is the glue. It's important for us all regardless. And it has got nothing to do, sir, with being against immigrants or against Latinos. You like to phrase it like that, because you want some fight on that basis, but it's got nothing to do with it.
SANCHEZ: Congressman, let's go ahead and give him a chance.
PEREZ: It already binds us together. We all recognize that English is the national language. Congress even voted on this a while back. It is the national language.
The people who want to make it official are only -- Rick, the people who want to make it official are the people who want to take away the bilingual ballots, who want to take certain rights, certain services. You go to an emergency room, and they won't speak to you in Spanish, even though you can get along a lot better in that language.
So, that's what they want to try to take away by making English official. We recognize that English is the national language. Most Latinos, most immigrants, when they arrive in this country, recognize, if they want to get ahead, they have to learn English.
SANCHEZ: And that goes to this point. Is it really generational? Is it something is going to be only in the short term?
SANCHEZ: So, is it then shortsighted to be criticizing the abuelito or the abuelita who really can't speak English, even though their sons and daughters will? That's a big part of this discussion.
Congressman, stick around, because we are going to pick that up as well.
And this question: Should everything then be in English if you follow the argument that the congressman is making in this case? That's an important question, I mean, no exceptions. We are going to bring you a couple of guys who are going to be talking about that as well.
And I want you to do something for us right now. Go to a computer if you're at home and you're watching this newscast, because I want to take a poll for everyone who is watching right now and see if you can answer this question. Should America be English only? Should America be English only?
Log on to CNN.com/uncoveringamerica, and then scroll down to our Quick Vote question. Again, here's the question. Should America be English only? We really want to know what you're thinking about this and we're going to broadcast the results in just a little bit.
All right. We're going to be taking you now to another American city, another American city in just a little bit, a place that's just the opposite of the city you just saw in Texas. We found two. And it started a knockdown, drag-out fight in this one as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with CNN. Can I ask you a question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No English.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No English?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Then, doesn't anybody in Miami speak English anymore? Does it really matter? This is a place that Tom Tancredo made a comment about. We will remind him of that as well.
And we will be right back.
SANCHEZ: We welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Special night here OUT IN THE OPEN, "Uncovering America: One Nation, One Language?" But you see, there's a question mark at the end of this. What language should we be speaking in this country? There's a lot of resentment out there, because there's a whole lot of Spanish-speaking immigrants. It's a fear in many minds that Spanish will somehow take over.
Well, we just showed you a Texas border town that actually does official business in just Spanish, no English. Now we are going to show you the flip side of this. This is a Chicago suburb where there's a movement afoot to save English, again, the other side.
Here's Ed Lavandera.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Mention the words English and official language in Carpentersville, Illinois, and the passion erupts.
In June, a group of local politicians fought to declare English as this Chicago suburb's official language. They wanted all official government business to be done in English only.
JUDY SIGWALT, CARPENTERSVILLE TRUSTEE: I started feeling out of place.
LAVANDERA: Judy Sigwalt is one of those local politicians inspired, she says, by the changes she's seen around here since she moved here 25 years ago.
SIGWALT: In my old neighborhood, I couldn't talk to any of my neighbors.
LAVANDERA: The fight has made some American citizens, like Adam Ruiz, uncomfortable. In a town that is about 40 percent Latino, the symbolic gesture, a resolution, not a law, has ignited a cultural battle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I'm asking all illegal aliens and their families to pack your stuff, go back to your country of origin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I look at some of you, how do I know you're legal? Will we be tagged in the ear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sick and tired of being called a racist or a Nazi.
LAVANDERA: Ruiz decided to fight the English-only crowd after this letter was sent to some white non-Hispanic residents. It said: "Are you tired of having to punch one for English and are you tired of watching illegal aliens pay with food stamps and then get in a $40,000 car?"
Ruiz says it's proof that the anti-illegal-immigrant group is on a racist crusade.
ADAM RUIZ, RESIDENT OF CARPENTERSVILLE, ILLINOIS: It became personal for me. It just really felt really uncomfortable.
LAVANDERA: Ruiz says the official English movement is driving some Hispanics out. Hispanic neighborhoods are flooded with for-sale signs. Sigwalt says, all legal residents should feel welcome.
SIGWALT: This is what I was raised for America to be, the land you know, a land of the free. We are all free. But, still, we have -- we have our language of origin.
LAVANDERA (on camera): A battle like this, what does it do to a city?
RUIZ: Tears it apart. It makes you feel really uncomfortable. You're in -- and it's like you're in an unwritten war here.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): In this cultural battle, language is a mighty sword.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Carpentersville, Illinois.
SANCHEZ: This is one that makes people's blood boil. We are going to be talking to both of our guests.
Tom Tancredo, before we go to the break, I want to get your quick take on this, 30 seconds.
Good idea, only in English all the time, yes or no?
TANCREDO: Absolutely, English only all the time.
SANCHEZ: What about you, Miguel Perez, when you look at something like this?
PEREZ: We would have to change the name of the congressman's state. It would have -- he's from Colorado. We would have to call it red.
SANCHEZ: Interesting point.
TANCREDO: It's English. English is Colorado.
SANCHEZ: Both of you guys, stay exactly where you are. We're going to be picking this up in just a little bit. Stay with us.
Next, this place could be Tom Tancredo's nightmare. He called it a Third World country. No, not me, but actually, it's all part of Florida, Miami. We go there. Does anyone in Miami these days speak English anymore?
Also, don't forget our Quick Vote question. Should America be English only? Go to CNN.com/uncoveringamerica.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back to OUT IN THE OPEN. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Tonight, we uncover America, one nation, one language? That's our question.
We're talking about the huge influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants into the United States and the fear that they just won't let go of their original language, that they will overwhelm English just in sheer numbers, and one day U.S. laws will actually be written in Spanish. Representative Tom Tancredo fears that. Syndicated columnist Miguel Perez doesn't. They're both back with me right now.
Hey, Congressman, let's start with this.
The folks that we just saw in that report, if they live in a U.S. city, just because they speak Spanish or maybe even if they're not here legally, shouldn't they still deserve to get services, emergency services, for example?
TANCREDO: Absolutely. Nobody is questioning emergency services.
But let me do this one thing, please. I have got a lady in my district wrote me a letter. And, by the way, it's on our Web site, teamtancredo.org, if you want to see the whole thing.
Name is Diane Myers. She talked about going into a store. It was a Wal-Mart store. Could not find the item she was looking for, kept asking everybody. Couldn't find anybody that spoke English, finally found a black lady who was stocking the shelves, asked her. She found it. She took her to the spot.
On the way she said, I couldn't find anybody else to do this. And the black lady turned around and said, you know, I always knew something was going to bring us together. Who would have thought it would be a language?
That was the most profound statement you could make about this issue, because that's what we're talking about, bringing people together, not separating them. But two languages and a country of two languages does separate us. That's exactly the wrong way to go.
SANCHEZ: But doesn't it have a lot to do with what's going on in a particular marketplace?
TANCREDO: Sure. Sure.
SANCHEZ: If there's a lot of people, Miguel, who are living -- let me take this to Miguel, if I can.
If there's a lot of people who just moved into one area, they're all first-generation, you are going to have more people, just by sheer numbers, that happen to speak Spanish there, right?
PEREZ: Absolutely. That's what's happening.
TANCREDO: That's right.
PEREZ: But let's realize, let's see clearly that most of those people still recognize that they need to learn English.
Look, Rick, I went to English courses as a reporter a couple of years ago.
PEREZ: I spent time in English classes. I would bump into a lot of people who would tell me, oh -- somebody said to me, oh, half the people in my class are falling asleep. I said, my God, do you mean that they aren't interested in learning English? They said, no, no, no. It's because they have three jobs and they're still here late at night trying to learn English. People are sacrificing.
A study was done by NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a survey of 22 cities where Latinos and other immigrants live. They found that there are waiting lists in most of these ESL courses. If the congressman wanted to do something about people learning English, he would fund those courses. He would introduce legislation to fund those courses.
We don't have enough money to teach as many people as we have that want to learn English. That's the problem.
TANCREDO: Amazing. Amazing, isn't it, that this country was able to actually get established and get to this point in time without ESL. And all the millions who came here who couldn't speak English somehow found a way to do it.
I'm all for people trying to find a way to speak English, don't get me wrong. But I'm telling you, it's not as if there isn't enough resources. There isn't enough will or desire to speak the language. That's the problem.
PEREZ: You mean, your ancestors never took a course? They learned English on their own, Congressman? Your ancestors never took a course? They all learned English in...
TANCREDO: No. The answer is no.
PEREZ: Oh, my God.
TANCREDO: They did not take a course in English.
TANCREDO: They went to a public school.
SANCHEZ: Gentlemen, you can't talk over each other.
SANCHEZ: You can't talk over each other.
TANCREDO: They went to a public school. That's how they learned. They did not take any special courses. That's how my grandparents learned. And my parents were not allowed to speak anything but English in the home. My parents weren't allowed to.
PEREZ: So, you don't think we should teach English...
SANCHEZ: Let's leave it right there, gentlemen.
Representative Tom Tancredo, syndicated columnist Miguel Perez, my thanks to both of you for being with us.
This new tape that I want to show you now, you would think is an anti-nuke protest. It's not. It's actually the demolition of one of the oldest nuclear plants.
Go ahead, Chris. Let's show them.
Dramatic picture, isn't it? This is the Calder Hall plant in England. Cooling towers were imploded Saturday. It opened in 1956. The British government now focusing on renewable energy, rather than nuclear. The environmental concern and the demolition is not, by the way, having anything to do with nuclear waste. There's no nuclear waste problem here at all.
It's asbestos. Because it's such an old plant, it was built with a lot of asbestos in the ceilings. It's been described as the biggest asbestos removal project in Europe, as a matter of fact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Do you want to be on CNN? You speak English?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ZARRELLA: Not much English?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: (SPEAKING SPANISH) A new study on how long it takes Mexicans in the United States to learn and then stick to English.
Also, Miami, where you can go from cradle to grave without ever learning English, how frustrating is that if you live there?
Then, later, what type of parents would put English-speaking kids -- English-speaking kids in a Spanish-speaking school?
SANCHEZ: Go to CNN.com if you want to register your own vote on this.
The question tonight is, if you're in this country, shouldn't you speak English? You have to learn English to get along in most of the country, but there are also places where you don't, where immigrants can live their entire lives speaking only their native language, places like Miami's Little Havana neighborhood or Hialeah or parts of Westchester and many others, where virtually everyone speaks Spanish and many speak no English at all.
John Zarrella joining us now from Miami. He's based in that part of the country. He knows what it's like firsthand to live there. And he joins us now with this report.
Take it away, John.
ZARRELLA: Hey, Rick.
Well, you know, I'm outside the Versailles Restaurant. You know it well in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. Here, you're more likely to hear people speaking Spanish than speaking anything else.
You know, Miami is often called the northernmost Latin American city in the world, where you can get by just fine speaking Spanish. But, to get ahead, well, that's another story.
(voice-over): In Miami, there are plenty of people who speak only one language, and it's not English.
(on camera): I'm with CNN...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no English.
ZARRELLA: No habla English?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
ZARRELLA: Hi, I'm with CNN. Can I ask you a question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No English.
ZARRELLA: No English?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
ZARRELLA: You want to be on CNN?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
ZARRELLA: You speak English? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. (speaking foreign language)
ZARRELLA: Not much English?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. (speaking foreign language)
ZARRELLA (voice-over): People often quip you can born, live and die in Miami and never speak a word of English.
Signs, billboards, the newspaper, it's all here in Spanish. Operated local newscast, in Spanish.
ANNOUNCER: (speaking foreign language)
ZARRELLA: According to census numbers, of the 2,200,000 people in Miami-Dade County, near 1.5 million speak Spanish at home. Compare that to this number, less than 650,000 people in Miami-Dade speak only English at home. While it's easy to get by here knowing just Spanish, to get ahead, the vast majority of Hispanics living here believe English is still a must.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say that when you touch...
ZARRELLA: Twice a week English classes for adults are offered at Broward County libraries. In Mexico, Fabiola Aleman was a nurse. She wants to be one here.
FABIOLA ALEMAN, ENGLISH STUDENT: I want to get better job. And it's the only way that I going to get better job if I learn the language.
ZARRELLA: There is no question about it.
JAVIER ROMERO, RADIO SHOW HOST: If you want to go global, as they use the term nowadays, you better know English.
ZARRELLA: Javier Romero hosts a hugely successful morning radio show. A quarter million people in Miami listen to him every day in Spanish. His English is nearly flawless as well, a definite plus.
ROMERO: We deal with English every day. I mean, commercials we read on the air sometimes come in English from the advertising agencies in New York, so we have to translate them. Or we have to adapt them to the Spanish language.
ZARRELLA: But as the Hispanic population here continues growing and the Anglo population continues to decline, the reality is, unless you want to compete globally, you can get by fine speaking nothing but Spanish.
SANCHEZ: John joins us now, live. John, explain to people who haven't been in Miami or don't live in Miami, what it's like to live in that city and not speak a lick of Spanish and how problematic it can be for you? ZARRELLA: It can be very problematic. I know many people who come down to Miami on occasion or come in through Miami International Airport. You ask for directions, you ask for someplace to go to get something to eat, you stop and your told, as we were told in that piece, "no habla English." So, it can be very difficult, it's frustrating. So frustrating, Rick, that, you know, in past years there were moves in Florida, moves in Miami English-only referendums. You remember all that well from your time down here. Because it had been such a divisive issue and so frustrating for the Anglos who live here.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, I'll tell you, I remember the banners, I remember the "take the flag with you, if you can." John Zarrella joining us now from Miami.
Do we need English-only laws is one of the questions that's being asked in South Florida. Are communities like Little Havana actually holding immigrants back by allowing them to avoid speaking English or is it just part of the marketplace?
Joyce Kaufman, she's the host of her own show on Miami's WFTL 850. She speaks fluent Spanish, by the way, and her mother was from Puerto Rico. She says she's had enough of this with people speaking Spanish wherever she goes.
Then on the other side of the coin, we have Jose Cancela, very well known in his own right, president of Hispanic USA, he's also the author of "The Power of Business en Espanol." So, these are two great guests to tee this up with.
Joyce, I want to being with you. So, the Cuban-Americans come to the United States, they create this huge marketplace in South Florida. Most of them have moved on. Now the Nicaraguans have come in, the Salvadorians have come in, the Hondurans have come in, Venezuelans have come in, many of these first generations. So Miami continues to be really replenished with new immigrants. And since they're early arrivals, most of them don't speak English. You can understand that, right, because on the one hand, it's a good thing, it's creating a good marketplace for goods that helps the United States economically, right?
JOYCE KAUFMAN, WFTL 850 RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it's a good thing if you don't have any desire to have an America that looks like the America the forefathers set up. You know, Rick, buenas noches. I just want to say I have nothing against the Spanish language. When I go home tonight, I will speak exclusively in Spanish once I close the door behind me. But when I'm in the public, my desire is to be a part of this country, to be a productive American who speaks English in the commerce.
I go down to the Miami arena. I used to have a season ticket for the Miami Heat. I don't want an (speaking foreign language), I want a hot dog. What's wrong with that? You know? I want to go out on the street...
SANCHEZ: It seems to be highly personal for you. And you know, Jose Cancela, I'm sure you understand this. There are people out there who are just insulted by the fact that they feel like in their country they got to listen to the majority of the people around them speaking Spanish and in some cases they won't even speak English to them. You get that, right?
JOSE CANCELA, PRESIDENT, HISPANIC USA: Joyce, look -- Rick, thank you so much for having us. Of course we get it. Listen, good to go to a Miami Heat game and be able to have a hot dog and an (speaking foreign language). Unfortunate, people like Joyce what they're doing is throwing venom; they're using this cheap argument...
KAUFMAN: Oh stop.
CANCELA: ...this is dividing America to really divide with the argument (INAUDIBLE) that they're posing. The fact is that Spanish language is here to stay, it's part of our country today, it's part of the fabric of our country, it makes us a better global competitor and people have to start accepting it.
KAUFMAN: Well, you certainly hope so.
CANCELA: And there's nothing wrong with that, Joyce.
KAUFMAN: You certainly hope so because that's your business. I'm not a hate monger and if it weren't for Spanish-speaking people, you wouldn't have a business, so I understand your agenda. But my agenda...
CANCELA: No, it's not a agenda. It's a reality.
KAUFMAN: ...is to remind you that there are people in...
CANCELA: You are the one that has an agenda with your radio show.
SANCHEZ: Hey, let's stop real quick, guys and let ask you -- let me ask you a question because the point that Joyce is making and maybe some viewers don't understand it, is because you've got experience in Spanish media. Some people say, look Hispanic media is going to perpetuate this because they want people not to speak English, they want them to speak Spanish, they want people to watch Univision.
SANCHEZ: By the way, hey, Joyce. By the way Joyce, at the same time you've got a radio show and you've got a lot of viewers who love you because you're taking this on these people speaking Spanish, so you know...
KAUFMAN: There's a movement in this country, right now, to take America back. And you know it, Rick, and so does Jose.
CANCELA: Take America back? From who? Take it from who, Joyce?
KAUFMAN: We defeated two amnesty bills. We defeated two amnesty bills on the power of talk radio and the Internet. Those Gringos that you have so little respect for that you call bigots and racists, who formed this country, who made the greatest country in the world that you all want to come to, including my people in the past, and now you want to turn your nose up and say, well, you better learn to speak Spanish or it won't global. There's nothing unbelievable about how we feel.
SANCHEZ: Joyce, Joyce, Joyce. Let's give him a chance to respond. Go ahead, Jose.
CANCELA: Do you hear what she's spewing, the venom that she's spewing.
KAUFMAN: Spewing my...
CANCELA: Ladies and gentlemen, this it's not about taking anything back. You know who the number...
KAUFMAN: Did you ever hear LARASA and venom they spew...
SANCHEZ: Joyce, let him -- Joyce, let him...
CANCELA: Excuse me, Joyce. I heard you, now you're going to hear me. Rick, do you know who the No. 2 advertiser is on Spanish language television only after Procter & gamble?
KAUFMAN: Here we go.
CANCELA: It's English courses, a company called Lexicon, selling English courses at almost $1,100 a clip. This is not about people not wanting to learn English, this is people about having the preference to be bilingual and bicultural and part of this great country. In my book I dedicate a chapter, we call it "We Love the USA."
KAUFMAN: We love the USA, but we don't want to say the "Pledge of Allegiance in English."
CANCELA: Listen, there's a place in Illinois, a little town called (INAUDIBLE), that over (INAUDIBLE) have given their life for this country. We love this country. We want to be part of this country, but we want to be able to do it in English and espanol.
KAUFMAN: Then speak English. It's not that complicated.
CANCELA: You can't stand that, Joyce.
SANCHEZ: It's all about speaking English or espanol. Let's leave it right there, guys, we appreciate the heated debate. We'll come back with a lot more of this. Stay with us as our guests coming back as we continue the discussion on whether some of this is really just generational.
By the way, we want to know what you think. Should America be English only? Go to our Web site, now. Let us know how you feel. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: All right, now we're going to get to what many believe is the real root of the argument when it comes to the language issue in the United States. The big fear among a lot of people who are promoting English-only laws in the United States, like Tom Tancredo, the Congressman we were talking to a little while ago, is that with all the Spanish immigration, English, the language of this nation, will simply disappeared, that is' going to be overwhelmed by so many Spanish speakers that are coming to this country.
It's never happened before with other waves of arguments, although the arguments have existed, otherwise we'd be speaking German right now, or Italian or something of the sort. In fact, a study by researchers at Princeton and University of California at Irvine have found that by the third generation Spanish practically disappears from the Latino families.
Historical and contemporary evidence seems to indicate -- and this is from the study, I'm going to quote for you now, "Historical and contemporary evidence indicates that English has never been seriously threatened as the dominant language of the United States." And it also says, "What is endangered instead is the survival of the non-English languages that immigrants bring with them to the United States."
We wanted to show you that quote. Joining us now is one of the authors of this study that people have been talking about, it's Douglas Massey. He's a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and he's good enough to join us now.
Professor Massey, thanks so much for being with us. We're going to put this study here so we can break it down for some of the folks. This is what you found. Here it is. Take it tight, if you would, Chris, and we'll see if the viewers at home can get a chance to see this.
These are Mexican-Americans who speak fluent Spanish. First generation, obviously, 100 percent do because they've just arrived in the country. All right, then they have kids. Of those kids, 35 speak Spanish, then they have children, of that generation, only 17 speak Spanish. Fourth generation, only five percent -- five percent is all of that generation that actually continues to speak Spanish. The rest have been Americanized. They're speaking only English.
Douglas Massey, professor, what does this say?
DOUGLAS MASSEY, PHD, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, it says that the U.S. is in no danger of using the long-standing historical reputation as a graveyard for languages. As best we tell, Spanish speakers come into this country and by the third or fourth generation the ability to speak Spanish is virtually extinct.
And remember this data, the data that I just described was collected in southern California, in San Diego and Los Angeles, which has one of the largest densities of Spanish speakers anywhere in the country. And if it's happening there, it's bound to be happening in Minneapolis and Nebraska and other places.
SANCHEZ: But, you can get where so many people struck by the first generation, they happen to live in a town like Miami or Los Angeles, where there really are huge concentrations of people who've just arrived and they look at it and they around them and say, wait a minute, they're taking over, right?
MASSEY: Well, it can seem that way to some people. But, a lot of the people they hear speaking Spanish, in fact also speak English. And, anytime of rapid immigration when you have the arrival of a lot of first generation foreign language speakers, it takes time for them to adjust into English. But the longer people spend here, the more English they learn, the more they use it in daily life and across the generations there's a quick drop-off of even the ability to speak Spanish...
SANCHEZ: Personally, for me, this is very close to my own situation and my heart. My parents don't speak a lick of English and they're watching me right now on TV, but they don't understand, for the most part, what I'm saying. My children don't speak any Spanish, and yet I'm right in the middle. Is this typical of the assimilation pattern in the United States? It happened with the Italians and Germans, as we mentioned. Will it happen as well for everyone in the country, like myself, whether they're from Mexico or another place, that speak Spanish?
MASSEY: That's what the data show. It's very difficult to maintain Spanish across the generations. It really requires you to set up a private school system to educate people in Spanish and teach then how to read and write in the language, because from what you learned at home, you simply learn household Spanish and that's not a full and complete Spanish. And that's why it survives more in Miami than any place else because the wealthy Cubans there have set up their own schools. But of course the second and third generation also speak flawless and perfect English.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, Douglas Massey, professor Princeton. Thank you sir, for being with us.
MASSEY: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Interesting study.
LARRY KING LIVE coming up in just a couple of minutes. Larry's going be joining us. In fact, there he is right now. Larry spent a lot of time in Miami. Talk about a guy who knows that place.
LARRY KING, LARRY KING LIVE: Twenty years -- I was there when Castro marched into Havana.
KING: On New Year's morning 1959. I was on the air, in fact, at WKAT radio.
SANCHEZ: And then all of a sudden a lot of folks who started speaking Spanish started showing up on the shores of Miami Beach, right?
KING: I knew a lot of them that came in and people who worked at Channel four in Miami came from the Cuban community. They were an extraordinary group of people, by the way, very successful people, lawyers, doctors. That early crew was quite a crew.
SANCHEZ: What you got tonight, man?
KING: Well, coming up, Britney Spears has to give up her custody of her two sons to K-Fed by Wednesday at noon. And we've got reaction from someone who may have played a role in today's ruling, her former bodyguard.
Plus, this lady had a 10 year relationship with that suspect in the horrifying Nevada child sex assault tape. She's here for her first live primetime interview. It's all at the top of the hour on, Rick, on LARRY KING LIVE.
SANCHEZ: Larry the man on LARRY KING LIVE, we thank you.
KING: Thank you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: We'll be looking forward to it.
Should American kids learn Spanish? Some American kids learning Spanish in this one. Next, a school where they don't have a choice. Also, don't forget it's our quickvote question that we've been asking all night long. We've tried to present different points of view on this issue. Should America be English only? Vote at cnn.com/uncoveringamerica.
SANCHEZ: This is part of an important debate that a lot of Americans should be talking about. This has to be about population, now, Hispanics, soon the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States. In fact, take a look at this, we've broken it down for you and we put it up on the wall.
The first two states we've got to talk about, obviously, are California and Texas. Nearly half of the people in the United States who call themselves or consider themselves Hispanic live in those two states. Those are the primary population areas. L.A. County, for example, has the largest Hispanic population of any county, that's 4.7 million. And how many people are now in states all over the United States? That's been growing like crazy, as well. Fifteen states at least has half-a-million people all throughout Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, places you wouldn't think about in the past like Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York of course, but then there's New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Washington. And this is something that continues to grow.
I want you to think now about how hard it is for many children of Hispanic immigrants. But in a small California town children of Latino immigrants are being taught in Spanish only, as well as others. Here's Ted Rowlands.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The little boy in the blue shirt doesn't speak Spanish. He doesn't understand much Spanish either, so he's not getting a lot of what his public school kindergarten teacher is saying.
ROBERT FORBES, DIR DUAL LANGUAGE EDUCATION: You can see he's tracking what she's saying, but he doesn't have the word in Spanish to answer her.
ROWLANDS: The boy's name is Juan. Ninety percent of the lessons in his class are taught in Spanish, only 10 percent in English. Juan's parents have chosen to put him in this class because they want him to be fluent in both Spanish and English.
FORBES: For us, it was how can we create an educational system that takes advantage of this prevailing culture in the community?
ROWLANDS: You see, at least 8,000 of the 10,000 residents in this agricultural community of Lindsay, California, are Latino. School officials say 60 percent of this year's kindergarten classes are being taught this way. Kindergarten and first grade are taught 90 percent in Spanish. The idea is to focus on the majority of the kids' primary language first. By second grade, instruction changes to 80 percent Spanish, 20 percent English. And by fifth grade, it's 50/50.
District officials say the program has been going for 10 years and students are not only learning two languages, but according to standardized test results, they're outperforming students taught in English only. There's even a waiting list to get into the program for students that want to come from outside the district.
GISELLA OUTTEN, PARENT: Our oldest son has been in the program for six years now, and it is -- it's a wonderful thing to hear my son, you know, not only speaking Spanish, but reading, writing it.
ROWLANDS: Despite the early focus on Spanish, English-only- speaking children, like Juan, also do well, according to educators. It just takes a few months to get up to speed. The program's director says by the time all of these kids get to high school, they will be speaking, reading and writing fluently in both languages.
FORBES: Our students are headed for Berkeley and UCLA. I mean, our students are university-bound. That's the kind of culture that we want to create.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Lindsay, California.
SANCHEZ: Back with me now, Miami radio host Joyce Kaufman and Jose Cancela, president of Hispanic USA.
The argument usually made, guys, that bilingual education simply doesn't work, that what we need to do is maybe English as a second language, but then move on and let them get immersed into the English system. Surely, I know you, Joyce, agree with that, right?
KAUFMAN: Well, that's how it was for me. I came out of a Spanish-speaking home and learned English in the public schools in New York City. You know what I find disturbing about the study that you had in the last segment and also this piece on this Spanish school. It's almost as though you think it's the same as it was during the '30s when people came over from Europe. And you don't recognize the fact that there are entire cities, entire counties, entire portions of states that now contain more of one time of immigrant than we've ever seen before and they have created a subculture. Miami is a different culture than Broward County, although Broward's changing quickly, Rick, as you know.
SANCHEZ: Go ahead, Jose Cancela. By the way, the statistics that you threw out are not necessarily true. There have been times in this country where the percentages of immigrants have actually been bigger than what we're experiencing right now. Cancela, to you.
CANCELA: Yeah, Rick, I mean, I think the people in Lindsay, California, should be congratulated. As a matter of fact, there's actually a school here where two of my children go to which has an international program and they're both on a Spanish track. Half their day is in English, half of their day is in Spanish. This is something that we should all move towards. The fact is that having a second language -- in this case Spanish, brings us up to the 21st century in a more aggressive and a more completive way.
KAUFMAN: But, shouldn't it be a choice? Why is it mandatory?
CANCELA: The fact that people like Joyce, use underworld and underground...
KAUFMAN: Stop with the imperious insults and the gratuitous comments.
CANCELA: She is making it seem like...
KAUFMAN: It Spanish you're called a (speaking foreign language). We know who you are.
CANCELA: All you're doing is spewing hate.
SANCHEZ: Hey guys, let's give each other a break. Let's finish up here. CANCELA: Joyce, Joyce, Joyce is spewing hate.
SANCHEZ: Joyce, go ahead. Joyce.
KAUFMAN: Stop with your imperious tones. You're not impressing anybody except preaching to your own choir.
CANCELA: You're the one who that's imperious.
SANCHEZ: Joyce, let me ask you a question...
KAUFMAN: Jose, you're insane.
SANCHEZ: Joyce, let me ask you, is it possible that your perspective comes from the fact that you're living in a town where there are simply a lot of first generation people arriving, a lot of immigrants coming from different countries and eventually Miami will be no different than any other American city?
KAUFMAN: I don't think that's true, Rick, because I am now living in the county of Broward where there are chickens walking on the streets. And I have to tell you...
KAUFMAN: I find it uncomfortable. I think there are cultural ideas that also are attached to language.
CANCELA: Did you hear that?
KAUFMAN: I don't want to go to a Home Depot and not be able to ask in English for an item. I think it's outrageous.
SANCHEZ: All right, we'll leave it with the chicken comment.
CANCELA: Oh, my god, that's unbelievable.
KAUFMAN: It's true.
SANCHEZ: Jose Canselo, both of you, thanks so much for being with us.
Here we go: should America be English only? Next the results of our quickvote.
SANCHEZ: Now Pedro Zapeta's story. We've been following this one for you closely, here. He's an illegal immigrant who spent 10 years here, washing dishes, saved $59,000 washing dishes, but when he tried to fly back home to Guatemala the U.S. seized his cash at the airport.
So, I got on the phone to a half dozen government agencies to try and find somebody who could explain why this country should take Pedro's life savings.
Call to: Department of Justice, 2:30 p.m. ET
Rick Sanchez calling from CNN. I wanted to ask some questions about a story we're following up on. This is the story of Pedro Zapeta.
We tried Justice, that didn't work.
Call to: Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) 2:40 p.m. ET.
I'm hoping to reach someone there in Press Affairs at the Customs Enforcement office.
I got an answering machine there. Now I'm going to try and see if I can get another number they said that you can call.
Second call to: ICE, 2:44 p.m. ET
Got another answering machine. The same one I got a little while ago.
Call to: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, 2:40 p.m. ET
Yeah, I'm trying to reach the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Department of the Treasury.
Call to: White House, 2:46 p.m. EDT
I'm wondering if you guys at the White House can give us some insight on this. But, it's the story of an immigrant who is leaving the country...
Return call form: White House, 2:58 p.m. EDT
That's the White House, they say they're going to check and see.
Still waiting for them to call back. By the way, should Pedro get his money back? Write us at OUT IN THE OPEN at cnn.com and we are going to read some of your e-mails right here on the air. A lot of response already.
Thirteen-thousand you of you clicked onto our quick vote, by the way, 74 to 26, those saying yes, English only.
Larry King coming up next. Hasta manana.
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