Hispanic activist ties English-only mandate to media


A Republican Hispanic activist in upstate New York has taken to the pages of the Middletown NY Times Herald-Record to express concerns about enactment of laws requiring that all business be conducted in English only. He is concerned that such legislation could be the end of Spanish-language media in the US.

The author of the piece is Rubén Estrada, who among other things is president of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Orange County.

Estrada took both parties briefly to task, but said he was worried that it was his own party that risked alienating the growing Hispanic population by taking actions that are extremely unpopular among that particular community.

He said, “We Republicans must take pride in being the party with demonstrated leadership in diversity through our past policies, sensitivities and accomplishments, such as many major Latino appointments made during Republican administrations dating back to President Nixon. The timing is such that we, as a party, cannot engage in any new perceived conflicts with our Latino community. English-only legislation would require all federal business to be conducted in English only.”

He discussed the loss of small Hispanic broadcasters. “One program, in particular, stood out. That program was the IRS FCC 1071 Tax Certificate Program. The program enabled minority persons to purchase media facilities, then allow the seller to defer their capital gains of the sale. A minority person would purchase the entity at market prices. Its repeal caused the return of media monopolies, which then began to purchase and squeeze out of the industry small Hispanic-owned media entities. This program was not a giveaway or set-aside. Yet, its demise was the beginning of the disempowering of our Hispanic community.”

He concluded, “I can see the U.S. government eliminating FCC licenses of facilities that transmit in Spanish. I believe this could become the next step in the paranoid approach by some in the Republican and Democratic parties who feel their control threatened by the influx of Hispanics entering our country and our collective involvement in our communities’ electoral and political process.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Some of the historical analysis contained in this piece is a little off – for example, it was not the elimination of minority tax certificates that caused a wave of media consolidation in the 1990s, as the writer suggests.

The loss of the certificate program certainly has been bemoaned by many, but on the radio side, raising the cap on local ownership and eliminating the cap on national ownership altogether are what set off the wave of consolidation.

And we have to believe that the day when use of a foreign language over US airwaves is banned is never going to come. We doubt that an English-only business mandate would withstand court scrutiny, much less a law that requires the FCC be recall licenses from foreign language broadcasters.