Rubio would require immigrants to speak English before receiving legal residency

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Tuesday will offer an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill strengthening the requirement that immigrants be able to speak English before they can get legal residency.

Rubio says his amendment would eliminate a loophole in the legislation that undermines the English language requirement.

Current law only requires English proficiency for citizenship.

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“On the day we announced the principles that would shape the immigration bill, we made it clear that English proficiency would now be required for permanent residency for the first time in American history,” Rubio said in a statement. “This amendment ensures that will be the case.”

Rubio’s amendment would strike language in the pending bill allowing the English proficiency requirement to be met simply by signing up for a language course.

Critics of the legislation have panned it for not doing enough to require millions of illegal immigrants to learn English as a condition for obtaining permanent legal residency.

ProEnglish, a group advocating for strong language requirements for immigrants, argued the authors of the bill have overstated its English standards.

“Contrary to what the Gang of 8 says, S. 744 has no requirement for illegal immigrants to learn English to get work permits or amnesty. They can renew their work permits indefinitely. They only have to show some knowledge of English if they apply for green cards after 10 and a half years of residency,” the group wrote in a press statement.

The group has paid for newspaper ads blasting the Senate’s Gang of Eight as “a Gang of Liars.”

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