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Marchers Protest Governor’s Veto of Funds to Teach Immigrants English

November 11, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ About 2,500 people marched to protest Gov. Pete Wilson’s veto of a bill that would have funded English-language classes for recent immigrants.

The protesters carried banners in Spanish and English that read: ″For Pete’s Sake, Remember the Hispanic Voters″ and ″Governor Wilson, When You Deny Us English You Cripple Your Work Force.″

″We want to participate in the economy of the greatest state in the nation,″ said Juan Jose Gutierrez, who helped organize the Saturday march.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Art Torres, D-Los Angeles, told marchers he would sponsor an effort to override Wilson’s Oct. 10 veto.

Torres called the veto hypocritical, noting that Californians voted overwhelmingly five years ago to make English the official state language. The governor ″tells us on one hand he wants us to speak English, but he removes the money to make it happen,″ he said.

The bill would have spent $65 million of federal funds allocated through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act on English proficiency classes for California’s 1.6 million newly legalized immigrants.

Aramis Vela, a 26-year-old engineering student, said he was fortunate to learn English in junior high school when he immigrated from El Salvador 12 eyars ago.

″You can’t find any job other than menial work if you don’t speak English. People want to be able to blend into society,″ he said. ″And you can’t do that without an education.″

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