Language barriers and Lino Lakes

I read with interest an article in the Star Tribune regarding the city of Lino Lakes passing a resolution barring the use of city money to provide translation of city documents or public meetings.

The headline, which states, “Lino Lakes approves English-only resolution” is a little misleading. They did not resolve that residents could speak only English in their town or anything of the sort. They resolved not to spend city money translating most city documents or meetings. Lino is the first Minnesota city to pass such an ordinance.

The article caught my eye for several reasons. The least obvious reason to any of my readers would be that Lino is my old stomping grounds, sort of. I went to elementary school there for several years. I just drove through there last month.

The most obvious reason, of course, is the language barrier problems the public encounters frequently in southwest Minnesota.

The article is a little disjointed and jumpy, but apparently the one dissenting vote came from a councilwoman who said she was concerned about how the resolution would affect perceptions about the city. Which really doesn’t tell me much about why she cast her vote the way she did.

“City officials continued to say the measure was motivated purely by economics,” the article states. It doesn’t tell us was how much money the city spent on translating in the past, but does say Lino does not currently have a budget for translation.

So, is the cost of translation a problem or not in Lino Lakes? After reading the article, I still don’t know.

The meeting apparently got a bit heated, with one woman being escorted out by police. That is my idea of a good meeting, actually, after attending some really boring ones.

The mayor said he was angered by people making the resolution into a race issue. Well, gee golly! Who would have expected the race argument? Next thing you know, activists who could care less about the individuals and just want to further their own cause might get involved. Shocker! The only thing the outspoken minority loves more than talking about the race issue is jumping aboard race-wagons to get their organization’s name in the paper or on the news.

A man who said his grandparents had to learn English when they arrived in the U.S. stated he doesn’t see new families working hard to learn the language or encouraging their children to do so. This caught my attention because of something a person connected with the Worthington school district told me a while back. She said in many immigrant families around here, the children learn English and translate for their parents, which essentially puts them in the driver’s seat.

Can you imagine getting in trouble at school, but being the one who got to explain to your parents what your teacher was telling them? Talk about power! A very unhealthy power, from my source said.

I think the reason people get so spun up about the race issue is because of illegal immigration and what it is costing this country. What they think it is costing them personally. As a crime reporter, I definitely see the worst part of illegal immigration — the welfare fraud, the stolen identities, the gangbanger thumpings.

I know there are hard-working, law-abiding immigrants out there who are undocumented, but I still don’t approve. Being on the sucky end of identity theft might convince some of the immigrants it isn’t a harmless crime. I remember talking to a woman after the ICE raids who had a new baby and a husband scooped up during the raid. She was terrified, understandably, and wanted help. While we talked, I asked her how her husband was able to work at Swift. She said he bought an ID.

“What about the person who had that ID stolen,” I asked her. “Do you know what it does to their lives?”

“Why should I care about that?” she replied. “It isn’t my problem.”

Whoa. Tough to be sympathetic when that attitude is tossed at me. Why should I care about her, after all. She isn’t my problem.

In the long run, I need more information before deciding whether or not the Lino resolution is warranted. Without knowing how many people use that particular service and why, it is hard to make an informed decision. I can only hope the board had the information I think would be necessary before they voted.

One thought on “Language barriers and Lino Lakes

  1. From what I understand of the story from the Pioneer Press and Minneapolis Tribune is that Lino Lakes does not have a budget nor a need for the translation of documents from English to another language now, but the coucilman wishes to make sure they don’t have that budgetary problem in the future. The reality is that he is trying to make a point about English and immigrants, and that he wishes them to learn English. (I also think people living in the U.S. should learn English, but I think this guy was stirring things up on purpose).

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