Those opposed cite that to do so would disenfranchise those immigrants that do not speak English and that we as a nation should go out of our way to accommodate them by making services (driver license exams, ballots, government publications, and so on) available in their native languages. However, all that does is slow or even stop the assimilation process of these immigrants, leaving them nothing more than second class residents/citizens because they will be trapped within their small enclaves and never truly comprehend what it means to become American.
California did away with bilingual education because the immigrant parents wanted their children to learn English, to become American. They knew that a good command of English was a requirement to succeed in this country. The example of my own grandparents, immigrants from Finland, is a lesson that too many of the do-gooder multi-lingualists have failed to learn.
Neither my grandfather or grandmother spoke English when they arrived here in the 1930's. In a few short years they were pretty fluent. This fluency allowed my grandfather to build a successful tool and die business from nothing, to become one of the foremost machine shops in Hartford, Connecticut before he retired in the mid-60's. Without the ability to speak English none of that would have happened. He would not have been able to communicate effectively with his customers unless they happened to speak Finnish or Swedish, meaning he wouldn't have succeeded at all.
Being able to communicate effectively is one way to assure that someone can exercise all of their rights and take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves. Without that communication none of that will happen. It can also lead misunderstandings that can have negative, if not tragic outcomes.
This is an issue that Peggy Noonan explores, stating that it is something that Congress will have to address soon.
The question of whether America should have an "official language," of whether English should be formally declared our "national language," is bubbling, and will be back, in Congress, the next few sessions.
When you look at papers outlining the facts of the debate, things break down into dryness very quickly. Should "issues of language diversity" be resolved by imposing "linguistic uniformity"? This is like asking if the robots should speak logarithmically or algorithmically. There are few things you can rely on in this turbulent world, but one is the tendency of academics to use language poorly, even when discussing language.
But there's something odd about the English question. It feels old-fashioned. Because we all know America has an official language, and a national language, and that it is English. In France they speak French, and in China they speak Chinese. In Canada they have two national languages, but that's one reason Canada often seems silly. They don't even know what language they dream in.
The real question, ultimately, is whether America wants to go that route. Should we allow America devolve into a nation of two official languages--in this case, following recent demographic trends and realities, English and Spanish?
We've never done that in more than 200 years. It would be radical, and destructive, to do it now.
Any proposal to make English the official language of the US would not preclude anyone from using any language they wish when they are with family or friends. That has often been the case with immigrants in the US for generations. But to force everyone else to use languages other than English in order to fulfill some silly politically correct notion of “language diversity” is asinine. There's enough language diversity throughout the world as it is. We don't need to create it artificially here as well in order to assuage someone's case of “White Man's Guilt”. It is something that often afflicts the politically correct morons who seem to think that by destroying what has made America a great nation they will be righting some imagined wrong.
It is time to get past that foolish notion and do what should have been done generations ago: make English the official language of the United States.