Those without pitch-perfect English may have trouble getting around the state of Missouri soon, due to a new legislation that many critics say creates an anti-immigration vibe to the state.
The state’s House voted 91-51 in favor of only granting licenses to those who could pass a written driver’s test in the English language. The legislation also restricts the use of interpreters for the exam, making it near impossible for even those who need a little extra help understanding the language to pass. The legislation only needs one more vote to enter into the Senate.
Although the United States does not have an official language, Missouri approved an amendment in 2008 to make English the official language of all state proceedings, however, this amendment does not make English the state’s official language.
While the state does not allow undocumented residents to obtain a license, immigrants who have obtained U.S. Citizenship and a Social Security card can currently take the driver’s exam in Bosnian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian.
Those who support the legislation believe it will create a better sense of unity among communities.
“We’re known as the melting pot, and my definition of ‘melting pot’ is people who come together and assimilate into our culture,” said U.S. representative Mark Parkinson, who sponsored the measure, according The Associated Press. “One thing that binds us all together is English.”
Previous measures by states have proved otherwise, however. According to the AP, some immigrants have moved to other states due to their inability to get the identification offered by a driver’s license. Carlos Hernandez moved his family from Arizona to Seattle due to the less strict licensing laws that Washington State offers.