MONTEREY PARK — A group opposed to a City Council resolution that endorses English as the nation's official language has begun circulating petitions asking the council to repeal it.
The Coalition for Harmony in Monterey Park (CHAMP) will seek 4,000 signatures on the petitions before submitting it to the council, said Michael Eng, a co-chairman.
He said that the goal exceeds the number of signatures gathered on petitions last year by supporters of official English.
Hopes to Sway One Vote
Eng said he believes that public opposition might persuade at least one of the three council members who adopted the resolution in June to switch sides.
The resolution, which also urges enforcement of immigration laws and denounces cities that provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, is supported by three council members and opposed by two.
Supporters claim that the resolution calls attention to an important national problem--illegal immigration--and that declaring English the official language will make it clear that immigrants are expected to learn English in order to discourage separatism and promote communication.
But Eng and other opponents of the resolution say that it is repressive, racially divisive and targets immigrants as scapegoats.
Eng said he believes it will take a couple of months to gather the signatures.
Petitions circulated by supporters of official English last year sought to put the issue on the election ballot, but the effort failed because of a legal defect in the petitions.
The current effort against official English is not a petition for an election, but merely an effort to advise the council of public opinion.
Kevin Smith, another co-chairman of CHAMP, has started a campaign to recall three council members--Barry Hatch, Pat Reichenberger and Cam Briglio--over their support of the resolution and actions on other issues.
However, CHAMP, which has 70 members of various ethnic and racial backgrounds, has not taken a position on the recall.