Text: H.R.997 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (02/27/2003)

 
[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 997 Introduced in House (IH)]







108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 997

 To declare English as the official language of the United States, to 
 establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization, and to 
 avoid mis-constructions of the English language texts of the laws of 
  the United States, pursuant to Congress' powers to provide for the 
general welfare of the United States and to establish a uniform rule of 
    naturalization under article I, section 8, of the Constitution.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           February 27, 2003

 Mr. King of Iowa 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 declare English as the official language of the United States, to 
 establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization, and to 
 avoid mis-constructions of the English language texts of the laws of 
  the United States, pursuant to Congress' powers to provide for the 
general welfare of the United States and to establish a uniform rule of 
    naturalization under article I, section 8, of the Constitution.

    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 ``English Language Unity Act of 
2003''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds and declares the following:
            (1) The United States is comprised of individuals from 
        diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, and 
        continues to benefit from this rich diversity.
            (2) Throughout the history of the United States, the common 
        thread binding individuals of differing backgrounds has been 
        the English language.
            (3) Among the powers reserved to the States respectively is 
        the power to establish the English language as the official 
        language of the respective States, and otherwise to promote the 
        English language within the respective States, subject to the 
        prohibitions enumerated in the Constitution of the United 
        States and in laws of the respective States.

SEC. 3. ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE UNITED STATES.

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

                     ``CHAPTER 6--OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

``Sec. 161. Official language of the United States
    ``The official language of the United States is English.
``Sec. 162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language
    ``Representatives of the Federal Government shall have an 
affirmative obligation to preserve and enhance the role of English as 
the official language of the Federal Government. Such obligation shall 
include encouraging greater opportunities for individuals to learn the 
English language.
``Sec. 163. Official functions of Government to be conducted in English
    ``(a) Official Functions.--The official functions of the Government 
of the United States shall be conducted in English.
    ``(b) Scope.--For the purposes of this section, the term `United 
States' means the several States and the District of Columbia, and the 
term `official' refers to any function that (i) binds the Government, 
(ii) is required by law, or (iii) is otherwise subject to scrutiny by 
either the press or the public.
    ``(c) Practical Effect.--This section shall apply to all laws, 
public proceedings, regulations, publications, orders, actions, 
programs, and policies, but does not apply to--
            ``(1) teaching of languages;
            ``(2) requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities 
        Education Act;
            ``(3) actions, documents, or policies necessary for 
        national security, international relations, trade, tourism, or 
        commerce;
            ``(4) actions or documents that protect the public health 
        and safety;
            ``(5) actions or documents that facilitate the activities 
        of the Bureau of the Census in compiling any census of 
        population;
            ``(6) actions that protect the rights of victims of crimes 
        or criminal defendants; or
            ``(7) using terms of art or phrases from languages other 
        than English.
``Sec. 164. Uniform English language rule for naturalization
    ``(a) Uniform Language Testing Standard.--All citizens should be 
able to read and understand generally the English language text of the 
Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Laws of the 
United States made in pursuance of the Constitution.
    ``(b) Ceremonies.--All naturalization ceremonies shall be conducted 
in English.
``Sec. 165. Rules of construction
    ``Nothing in this chapter shall be construed--
            ``(1) to prohibit a Member of Congress or any officer or 
        agent of the Federal Government, while performing official 
        functions, from communicating unofficially through any medium 
        with another person in a language other than English (as long 
        as official functions are performed in English);
            ``(2) to limit the preservation or use of Native Alaskan or 
        Native American languages (as defined in the Native American 
        Languages Act);
            ``(3) to disparage any language or to discourage any person 
        from learning or using a language; or
            ``(4) to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the 
        United States.
``Sec. 166. Standing
    ``A person injured by a violation of this chapter may in a civil 
action (including an action under chapter 151 of title 28) obtain 
appropriate relief.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of chapters at the beginning of 
title 4, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item 
relating to chapter 5 the following new item:

``Chapter 6. Official Language.''.

SEC. 4. GENERAL RULES OF CONSTRUCTION FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEXTS OF THE 
              LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.

    (a) In General.--Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following new section:
``Sec. 8. General rules of construction for laws of the United States
    ``(a) English language requirements and workplace policies, whether 
in the public or private sector, shall be presumptively consistent with 
the Laws of the United States; and
    ``(b) Any ambiguity in the English language text of the Laws of the 
United States shall be resolved, in accordance with the last two 
articles of the Bill of Rights, not to deny or disparage rights 
retained by the people, and to reserve powers to the States 
respectively, or to the people.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by inserting after 
the item relating to section 7 the following new item:

``8. General Rules of Construction for Laws of the United States.''.

SEC. 5. IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS.

    The Department of Justice shall, within 180 days after the date of 
enactment of this Act, issue for public notice and comment a proposed 
rule for uniform testing English language ability of candidates for 
naturalization, based upon the principles that (a) all citizens should 
be able to read and understand generally the English language text of 
the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Laws of the 
United States which are made in pursuance thereof, and (b) any 
exceptions to this standard should be limited to extraordinary 
circumstances, such as asylum.

SEC. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    The amendments made by sections 3 and 4 shall take effect on the 
date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
                                 <all>

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