Reporting Alex DeMetrick
FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)– A new law is on the books declaring English the official language of Frederick County.
Alex DeMetrick reports although it doesn’t really change anything, it’s what the law symbolizes that has people talking.
Frederick County’s new law took effect Wednesday.
“Declaring English the official language, I don’t see what the big deal is,” Frederick County Commission Chairman Blaine Young said.
But the only county commissioner to vote against it does see something.
“The chairman wanted to scare illegal immigrants from coming here,” Frederick County Commissioner David Gray said.
“We do not look at illegal aliens, illegal immigrants as the rest of the state does, in terms of some of our major metropolitan areas,” Young said.
But Young says the language law is not about scaring away all non-English speaking people.
“Frederick County has been very attractive to our hard-working, law-abiding immigrants. We welcome them,” he said.
“We’re not like, people would say, xenophobic. We’re just not built that way, and this sends a message as if we are, and I don’t want to be associated with that,” Gray said.
The county ordinance does not trump state or federal law, meaning those documents or proceedings may be in more than just English.
“I don’t see how it’s really going to make any difference,” a Frederick County resident said.
“We’re all Americans, I think it should be English,” said another.
The English ordinance is generating plenty of talk.
“English is a beautiful language for the American people, but it’s very good to be integrated, different diversities of people and different languages,” Ernest Thomas, Jr., a Frederick County resident, said.
“I like it when I can converse with people in the language I know, and yet this country was built on immigrants,” another Frederick County resident, Fanny Johnson, said.
The English ordinance would not stop county agencies from using a foreign language in education, public health and emergency services.