A man who gave testimony in Spanish before a Texas State Senate committee Monday was told by a Republican lawmaker that using his native tongue is “insulting” if he also knows how to speak English.
At about 2:17 into the video below, a man testifying against a controversial bill that seeks to ban so-called “sanctuary cities” by withholding state grant money is interrupted by state Sen. Chris Harris (R), who asks why the man is speaking in Spanish with the aid of a translator.
He responded in Spanish, and his translator said: “Spanish is his first language and since it’s his first time giving testimony he would rather do it in Spanish.”
“It’s insulting to us,” Harris snapped back, to voices of approval from the audience. “It’s very insulting, and it means if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English.”
That’s when Sen. Kirk Watson (D) of Austin chimed in.
“Senators are also entitled to speak their personal point of view and may not be speaking for everybody else as well,” he said.
The man then continued his testimony in Spanish.
The next man to speak introduced himself by saying, “I had prepared my remarks in English, but I’ve chosen to do them in Spanish. Or in French, s’il vous plaît.”
This video is from the Texas Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee, originally broadcast Monday, June 13, 2011.