Nov 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Allentown voters keep English as the city's official language
Residents of Allentown, Pennsylvania, voted 2 to 1 this week to keep English as the official language of the largely Latino city.
Why it matters: About 43% of Allentown residents speak a language other than English at home, with most speaking Spanish. Latinos make up about 54% of Allentown's residents, most are Puerto Rican.
- More than 6,000 people voted to keep English as the official language, about twice the number that favored its removal, according to Lehigh County.
- Julio Guridy, council president and sponsor of the ordinance, said that the lack of voter turnout, specifically among the Latinos, resulted in the initiative's defeat.
What they're saying: "Having the majority means nothing if Latinos don't go out, educate themselves and vote," Guridy said.
Catch up quick: Former City Council member Emma Tropiano, who had once falsely claimed that the Latino population caused 99% of Allentown's crime increases, introduced the provision in 1992, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The provision was approved two years later at the height of anti-immigrant legislation around the country.
- Arizona passed a similar measure in 1988, making English the language "of all government functions and actions." However, the state's Supreme Court later deemed the law unconstitutional, per the New York Times.