Pawlenty: MN should consider ‘helpful’ English-only law to address ‘diversity of languages in the country.’

Inspired by national anti-immigrant advocates, a small Minnesota town last week banned the use of languages besides English in its official business. At a press conference yesterday, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R) expressed support for considering a similar “English-only” bill on a statewide level, saying such a law “may be helpful” since “we have more diversity of languages in this country”:

Similar bills have been introduced at the Capitol. Pawlenty said it may be a good idea.

“As we have more diversity of languages in the country and there may be some question about how are official documents going to be created … I think it may be helpful to make it clear that that will be English,” he said.

Dozens of states have measures on the books designating English as the official language.


The state’s legislature won’t convene again until after Pawlenty leaves office, so while he wouldn’t be able to sign any English-only measure into law, gubernatorial candidate and state representative Tom Emmer (R) has previously “said he supports making English the state’s official language.” A professor and immigration expert quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s story on Pawlenty’s comment explained her concern “that with English-only legislation, the state wouldn’t print emergency information, which could create dangerous or even life-threatening situations.” Pawlenty, now a budding presidential candidate, has a habit of trying to look “tough” on immigration issues during election years, such as in 2008 when he hoped to be the GOP’s nominee for vice president and in 2006 when he ran for re-election.

William Tomasko