An argument between two elected officials from the greater Houston area escalated yesterday, when Harris County commissioner Mark Tice told county judge Lina Hidalgo via a local TV news website not to address local constituents in Spanish and to “speak English” instead. Tice went on to reason that the country of residence of both himself and Hidalgo was the United States, therefore making Spanish inappropriate.
Hidalgo was answering questions by local Spanish language media during a press conference on wild fires currently burning in the area. In a statement, Hidalgo’s office said that a large part of county constituents were Spanish speakers
and that she was planning to continue to communicate “as broadly as possible”, especially in a time when the safety of citizens was at risk. Tice has since apologized.
In fact, Texas and California have a higher percentage of Spanish speakers who reported to speaking English less than well than any other state in the U.S. According to the American Community Survey
, that number was 12 percent for Texas and 11.9 percent for California in 2017, followed by Florida and Nevada.