Senator Marco Rubio’s English only amendment would prevent millions of undocumented immigrants from obtaining US citizenship. This amendment would require the immigrants applying for legal status to establish that they are proficient in English, at the time of applying for Green Cards. Likewise, that amendment would also require the immigrants to pass a civics test while they apply for Green Cards. Currently, immigrants applying for Green Cards need not take English and civics tests and only the Green Card holders applying for US citizenship must take these tests. But Senator Rubio’s amendment would require the immigrants applying for US Green Cards to take these tests and only the immigrants who pass, would be granted US Green Cards. This amendment is likely to prevent some immigrants who are not good in English, from obtaining lawful status and it is likely to adversely affect around 4.84 immigrants who do not speak English.
The current version of the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill requires the undocumented immigrants to enroll in English classes and prove that they are trying to get proficient in English, before applying for Green Cards. But Senator Rubio’s amendment would require them to establish that they are proficient in English before they could apply for Green Cards. If this amendment of Senator Rubio is passed, the path to US citizenship would be delayed. Nevertheless, Senator Rubio stated that all the immigrants must be good in English and that English is important for economic success. He also stated that a ten year period is more than enough for the undocumented immigrants in Registered Provisional Immigrant status to get proficient in English. According to him, immigrants to assimilate into the culture of the country, need to learn and speak the language of America.
This new requirement would require most of the country’s undocumented immigrants to wait for a longer time to become US citizens. Studies state that more than 55 percent of the undocumented immigrants would not be able to pass the English component of the US citizenship test. According to the immigration reform bill of the Gang of Eight, undocumented immigrants need to pay fines, undergo background checks and obtain Green Cards, to apply for US citizenship and this process would take around 13 years to complete. If Senator Rubio’s amendment is passed, immigrants would be required to wait for more than 13 years to obtain US citizenship.