“Nashville will become a laughing stock in the nation and the world.” — Jose Gonzalez
Tensions were high the day the English-only proposal went to vote in Nashville as groups opposing and defending the measure worked to make their voices heard.
“We are working until the last minute,” said Jose Gonzalez, an opponent of the proposal and co-founder of Conexion Americas, a Nashville company that works to benefit the local Latino population. “We all agree English is the unifying language [of this city]. We don’t agree on how it’s being implemented.”
Gonzalez is speaking of the amendment which would force all Metro Nashville government business be done in English, with the council being able to grant exceptions. But Gonzalez says the proposal is flawed.
“The problem with the proposal is it is very broad…no one knows the real meaning.” He added that “It is an unnecessary piece of legislation” and there are other things the city should be focusing on.
He explained that the amendment, if passed, would have no impact on Conexion Americas, but it would take its toll on Nashville in the end. “It would have very little impact on people. It is purely symbolic. It’s more of what we’ll lose from it in the future.
“It will hinder [the] attractiveness of Nashville,” he said, noting that if the English-only amendment passed, Nashville would be the largest city with such a referendum. “Nashville will become a laughing stock in the nation and the world.”
One argument for the amendment is the fact that immigrants should learn English since they are in the United States. However, for Gonzalez, this is not the issue. He said that immigrants are learning English faster than ever, especially the new generations. “They don’t need a law to tell them that’s what they have to do,” he argued.
Gonzalez went onto explain that there may be a perception that Metro government in Nashville is reaching out to immigrants, but it is “not true at all.” As a country, we welcome foreigners, and “then they get here, and we shut the doors,” he said.
For Gonzalez, fighting the proposal has had its perks, though.
“It’s been an incredible exercise to see how many different groups have come together to fight this…I hope I can thank [Eric] Crafton for unifying us.”
Update: The English-only movement was defeated with 41,752 against the proposal and 32,144 in favor.