But in Arizona and notwithstanding Paul’s ironic humor, Alejandrina Cabrera, an Arizona Candidate for San Luis, Arizona City Council has had her name stricken from the March ballot by Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson. The reason? Although born in the U.S. and the product of an Arizona high school, Judge Nelson ruled Cabrera wasn’t qualified to run for office because her English language skills were “only a minimal survival range.” So much for the quality of an Arizona high school education when you manage to graduate even if you “No Hablo Ingles.”
And if you’re following the GOP presidential debates, Cabrera has no defense for not adequately learning, as Newt Gingrich says, “the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”
Since 1910, an Arizona Enabling Act has required “that ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language sufficiently well to conduct the duties of the office without the aid of an interpreter shall be a necessary qualification for all state officers. . . .” Moreover, with an approval of some 74% of the voters, Arizona made English the official language of the state in 2006.
But up until deciding to run for city office in San Luis, Arizona , the mostly monolingual Cabrera had nothing to worry about, especially with the town sitting on the Mexican border in the southwestern part of Arizona. It is 90% Latino.
And by the sounds of it, it’s a place very much like where I grew up, East Los Angeles, California. Like East L.A., you can spend your entire life in San Luis and never have to learn either The King’s English or Newt’s.
As Cabrera explained to the “New York Times,” “You go to market, it’s Spanish. You got to a doctor. It’s Spanish. When you pay the bills for the lights or water, it’s Spanish.”
According to the local paper, Bajo El Sol (Under the Sun to the English monolingual), Judge Nelson’s decision was largely based on the testimony of linguist William Eggeberg who also said there was little doubt that Cabrera has English“comprehension problems.”