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H.R. 622 (105th): Declaration of Official Language Act of 1997


The text of the bill below is as of Feb 5, 1997 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.


HR 622 IH

105th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 622

To amend title 4, United States Code, to declare English as the official language of the Government of the United States.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 5, 1997

Mr. STUMP (for himself, Mr. PETRI, Mr. HERGER, Mr. HILLEARY, Mr. BUNNING, and Mr. EWING) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To amend title 4, United States Code, to declare English as the official language of the Government of the United States.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Declaration of Official Language Act of 1997’.

SEC. 2. ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Title 4, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:

‘CHAPTER 6--LANGUAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT

‘Sec.

      ‘161. Declaration of official language.

      ‘162. Preferred language of communication

      ‘163. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language

      ‘164. Duties of citizenship.

      ‘165. Reform of naturalization requirement.

      ‘166. Exceptions.

      ‘167. Preemption.

      ‘168. Construction.

      ‘169. Enforcement.

‘Sec. 161. Declaration of official language

    ‘English is the official language of the Government of the United States.

‘Sec. 162. Preferred language of communication

    ‘English is the preferred language of communication among citizens of the United States.

‘Sec. 163. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language

    ‘The Government of the United States shall promote and support the use of English for communications among United States citizens. Communications by officers and employees of the Government of the United States with United States citizens shall be in English.

‘Sec. 164. Duties of citizenship

    ‘All United States citizens should be encouraged to read, write, and speak English to the extent of their physical and mental abilities.

‘Sec. 165. Reform of naturalization requirements

    ‘(a) It has been the long-standing national belief that full citizenship in the United States requires fluency in English. English is the language of opportunity for all immigrants to take their rightful place in American society.

    ‘(b) The Immigration and Naturalization Service shall--

      ‘(1) enforce the established English language proficiency standard for all applicants for United States citizenship, and

      ‘(2) conduct all naturalization ceremonies entirely in English.

‘Sec. 166. Exceptions

    ‘This chapter does not apply to the use of a language other than English for--

      ‘(1) religious purposes,

      ‘(2) training in foreign languages for international communication, or

      ‘(3) use of non-English terms of art in government documents.

‘Sec. 167. Preemption

    ‘This chapter preempts any State or Federal law which is inconsistent with this chapter.

‘Sec. 168. Construction

    ‘This Act is not intended to affect programs in schools designed to encourage students to learn foreign languages.

‘Sec. 169. Enforcement

    ‘(a) CAUSE OF ACTION- Whoever is injured by a violation of this chapter may, in a civil action, obtain appropriate relief.

    ‘(b) ATTORNEY’S FEES- In any action under this chapter, the court may allow a prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of costs.’.

    (b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of chapters for title 4, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

161’.

    (c) REPEALS- Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (other than sections 7201 through 7309) is repealed.

SEC. 3. REPEAL OF BILINGUAL VOTING REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) IN GENERAL-

      (1) BILINGUAL ELECTION REQUIREMENTS- Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a) is repealed.

      (2) VOTING RIGHTS- Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973b) is amended by striking subsection (f).

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS-

      (1) REFERENCES TO SECTION 203- The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973 et seq.) is amended--

        (A) in section 204, by striking ‘or 203,’; and

        (B) in the first sentence of section 205, by striking ‘, 202, or 203’ and inserting ‘or 202’.

      (2) REFERENCES TO SECTION 4- The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973 et seq.) is amended--

        (A) in sections 2(a), 3(a), 3(b), 3(c), 4(d), 5, 6, and 13, by striking ‘, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 4(f)(2)’;

        (B) in paragraphs (1)(A) and (3) of section 4(a), by striking ‘or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2)’; and

        (C) in paragraphs (1)(B) and (5) of section 4(a), by striking ‘or (in the case of a State or subdivision which sought a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) that denials or abridgments of the right to vote in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or subdivision’.