Board OKs removal of foreign-language materials

Published 7:35 am Saturday, February 10, 2007

By Staff
Unless required by state, federal mandates, such items won’t be found on county property
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
In move that could signal a renewed effort to address illegal immigration at the local level, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Thursday voted 6-1 to remove from county property signs, posters or other similar items that have languages other than English on them.
Signs, posters and comparable displays required by state or federal mandates to include languages other than English are exempt from the commissioners’ decision.
The proposal was introduced by Commissioner Hood Richardson. Joining Richardson in supporting the move were commissioners Stan Deatherage, Robert Cayton, Jerry Langley, Al Klemm and Jay McRoy, the board’s chairman. Ed Booth was the lone commissioner to vote against the measure.
In pushing for passage of his proposal, Richardson said he and his fellow commissioners have the responsibility to “stop the bilingualization of America where we can.” Richardson has been a proponent of not spending tax money on documents, signs, posters and pamphlets in languages other than English. The commissioner said immigrants should learn English. Costs associated with catering to immigrants who refuse to learn English should not be borne by taxpayers, he contends.
Providing such assistance to illegal immigrants makes the situation worse, Richardson has said. Providing documents, literature and other items in languages other than English makes it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain taxpayer-funded services, programs and benefits they are not entitled to, Richardson said.
“We need to get out of this while we have the opportunity to do so,” Richardson said.
Anyone not willing to support efforts to eliminate or minimize the effects of illegal immigration are “disloyal” to America and its people, Richardson said.
Richardson also wanted to know why Booth voted against the measure.
Booth said he didn’t have to explain why he voted the way he did. But the dissenting commissioner said he has a philosophical difference with Richardson’s approach to dealing with immigrants, legal or illegal.
Booth also asked if Richardson was willing to go as far as to remove Braille from elevators at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Richardson said he has no objection to assisting blind or other handicapped people in obtaining services, programs and benefits.
Klemm said the county must take actions to protect itself from effects of a growing population of illegal immigrants. He suggested the Employment Security Commission, employment agencies and other organizations that help people find jobs take steps to prevent illegal immigrants from being hired and taking jobs away from American citizens or legal immigrants.
Klemm also said increasing gang violence in eastern North Carolina can be attributed to the increase of illegal immigrants in the region. A growing population of illegal immigrants also could result in school systems being overpopulated to the point they will be forced to build new schools at taxpayers’ expense, Klemm said.
During a joint session with the county school board, Klemm asked if the new John Small Elementary School would be built with the potential growth of the Hispanic population in mind.
The school can accommodate expansion if necessary, according to school board members. Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss acknowledged that the percentage of Hispanic children in the schools is increasing.