The public comments on making English the official language in Carroll County

WESTMINSTER, Md. - Protestors gathered outside of the government building in Carroll County ahead of a public hearing, where more than a hundred people waited their turn to talk for three minutes.

"It's unfortunate.  I think it leaves a bad taste in people's mouths," said Judy Smith, from Union Bridge. 

Making English the official language is the debate.  The proposed ordinance was introduced by County Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, who wants to avoid taxpayer dollars funding translation services.

"The onus would not be on us to provide an interpreter to relay that information, and we don't do that now.  But going forward we certainly wouldn't have to," said Commissioner Shoemaker.      

The most recent census shows Carroll County has a white population of over 93 percent.  Hispanics make up just under three percent.

But the commissioner says it's still important to follow Frederick and Queen Anne's Counties in Maryland, who have passed similar bills.  Matilde Vallejos knows the fight of being an immigrant.

"It was easier for me to learn English because I was younger than my father was.  He was 55 when he arrived.  He really tried hard to learn English but it was just hard because when you're older learning a second language is hard," said Vallejos, who lives in Mt. Airy.    

But Michelle Jefferson says there's an app for that.

"The person who doesn't speak English, they talk it translates.  It doesn't cost anybody anything.  The app was free," said Jefferson.   

There were mixed opinions but very passionate ones, along with a warning from the man who says "hello" not "hola."

"Learn English.  That's what I would suggest," said Commissioner Shoemaker. 

The commissioners are taking comment for 10 day following the public hearing.

E-mail: commissioners@ccg.carr.org

Send a letter: 225 N. Center St.

                            Westminster, MD 21157

Call:  410-386-2043  

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