A man testifying in Spanish at a hearing on an immigration bill meant to curb illegal immigration in Texas was asked by Sen. Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington why he wasn’t speaking in English and not through an interpreter when the man divulged he had been in the U.S. for 23 years.
Antolin Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition was testifying against Senate Bill 9 that would help crack down on illegal immigrants in Texas.
Aguirre said Spanish is his “first language and since it is his first time giving testimony he would rather do it in Spanish.”
“It is insulting to us,” Sen. Harris fired back. “It is very insulting. And if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English.”
Senate Bill 9 if passed would allow local law enforcement officials to check a suspect’s immigration status.
Opponents of the bill argue that it will do little to help border security and that it’s instead based on racism.
The bill was passed by the Texas Senate and is now to be voted on by the House within the next few days. If it is approved, the bill may become law.
The Senator’s comments are drawing praise and criticism.