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Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Barton County official urges repeal of English-only resolution

December 11, 2002

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— Barton County Commissioner Patty Linsner-Hansen says she still wants Spanish-speaking immigrants to learn English.

But until they do, she said, they should be able to do business with the county in their native tongue.

Linsner-Hansen will ask her fellow commissioners to rescind a 5-year-old resolution, passed when Barton County expected a wave of Hispanic workers, that made English the official governing language for the county.

"Times have changed," Linsner-Hansen said, noting 7 percent of the county's population is Hispanic. "This is not saying we don't want people to speak English, but you cannot treat people differently because they can't."

Barton County already offers some bilingual services, apparently contradicting its own policy, Linsner-Hansen said.

County Administrator Mel Waite said whether the county keeps or rescinds the resolution would have no effect on county business.

But Isabel Bejorqez, area director for Harvest America, a nonprofit corporation in Great Bend, sees the effort to rescind the resolution as a positive step for the county.

"For people who are non-English-speaking, they're willing to learn, but they're not going to learn it overnight," she said. "I don't see what they gain from the resolution, other than making the non-English population feel they're not accepting them or giving them time to learn the English."

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