LANSING — Today, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 4053, which would make English the official language of Michigan. State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) offered a substitute to the bill to instead provide that state departments and agencies will take reasonable steps to provide equal language access to residents who do not speak English as their first language — what she has proposed in House Bill 4619, which has not received a hearing. Her substitute was not passed. In response, Rep. Chang issued the following statement:

“Every Michigander deserves access to services provided by state departments and agencies. As Michigan continues to become a more diverse state made up of people who speak many different languages, I would have hoped that we could take steps to ensure that we are welcoming and providing equal access to state government for all our Michiganders. Yet this bill solves absolutely no priority issue for Michiganders, does nothing to make our state more welcoming, and only serves to divide us among those who are native English speakers and those who are not, creating divisions among neighbors and separations within communities. As a result of House Bill 4053, those Michigan residents who speak English as a second language would suddenly find themselves ostracized and disenfranchised, simply because they are different. Even Gov. Rick Snyder’s own ethnic commissions are opposed to this divisive and irresponsible bill.

“Most families, including mine, are not far removed from a generation where English was a second language, learned while living, working and contributing to the melting pot of our society. An abuela, a buschia, a nonna, an oma, and an ah-ma all deserve better than this kind of exclusion. HB 4053 does not represent Michigan’s values, and we as a state must be better than this.”