Driving a truck in Alabama? If you're Hispanic, brush up your English.

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Just a pointer to Dennis Baron's report on his Web of Language that

Manuel Castillo, a California trucker with twenty years experience, was stopped and ticketed [the maximum $500] by an Alabama state trooper for failure to speak English well enough.

… Castillo paid the ticket – tickets are part of the cost of doing business for a trucker – and drove on home.

Then there's the question of why Castillo was stopped in the first place. Baron notes that

17% of the nation’s truck drivers, and 11% of its bus drivers, are Hispanic, and authorities gave them 25,230 tickets for insufficient English last year. While government officials insist that they’re not waging a campaign against Mexican truck drivers, these numbers suggest a concerted effort by the Department of Transportation to criminalize driving while Spanish. 

To reinforce this message, the DOT pamphlet on the offense of insufficient English, with a picture of a happy Hispanic posing in front of a big rig, clearly suggests that the department’s English-only policy has quite a lot to do with “a person’s national origin.”

More details on Baron's blog (and comments are enabled there).



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