Spanish is the pervasive language spoken in San Luis, Arizona. Yet, the city’s Latino Mayor has challenged the eligibility of a Hispanic candidate for City Council on the grounds that she has limited English proficiency (LEP). The LEP candidate, Alejandrina Cabrera, is a U.S. citizen and a graduate of the same high school from which the Mayor graduated. The Mayor cites a 1950’s Arizona law (echoing AZ’s state Constitution, adopted in 1910) providing that a “person who is unable to speak, write and read the English language is not eligible to hold a state, county, city, town or precinct office in the state.” All AZ state-level officials must be able to “read, write, speak, and understand the English language sufficiently well to conduct the duties of the office without the aid of an interpreter.” A state trial judge removed Ms. Cabrera’s name from the ballot after a court-appointed expert tested her English skills and deemed her not English-proficient. Cabrera is taking her case up to the Arizona Supremes in hopes that the state’s highest Court will restore her name to the ballot in time for the March primary election.
READ MORE: English Language Proficiency and Elective Office in the Southwest: An Arizona Ballot-Access Case Poses Important Questions, Verdict (February 2, 2012).