Immigration, Language, and Xenophobia

Proposed Statement to Mexican Americans, dated 1972

This document is a series of drafts of a single Tower speech on the rights of Mexican-Americans in Texas dating from 1972, intended to advance programs promoting education, federal employment, and economic status of Hispanic Texans. The drafts are typewritten, but are covered in marginalia and suggested edits from Tower's speechwriting team, who are also presumably the creators of the document. There is a note at the top of the first page mentioning "staff comments" (Tower 1). There is certainly favorable bias towards these programs in the document – Tower did create them, after all, and the speech focuses entirely on positive effects that the programs have had, and does not touch on the potential downsides, such as cost to taxpayers. The marginalia of the document is particularly notable in this regard, as it allows the reader an insight into how the language has been crafted to maximize the impact of the speech on its audience. Unfortunately, as with many similar artifacts in the Tower collection, there is no clear indication as to whether the speech was ever used, or if the last draft in this series was a final draft or not.

Tower's speech demonstrates how issues of language and immigration have changed little over the years; in fact, an argument might be made that steps have been taken, but in a regressive direction. While Tower proposes the reaffirmation of bilingual education programs and the allowance of Spanish in Texas schools, the current presidential race sees Donald Trump criticizing Jeb Bush for his use of Spanish in public. The New York Times quotes Trump as having described Bush as "a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States." But even Bush, the candidate perhaps most supportive of the rights of Hispanic immigrants, has stated that he believes that English fluency should be a requirement for United States citizenship (Rappeport). Tower, "guilty" though he may be of holding progressive views, as he says in the "Environmental Speech" document, felt the need to hedge in his expression of positivity towards Mexican immigrants. One of the most notable pieces of marginalia on this speech comes in the form of a note at the end of a paragraph stating that Mexican-Americans have the right to education; the appended handwriting adds "to the fullest degree that his ability will carry him," implying a lower level of ability on the part of non-White Americans and demonstrating that racially-charged language has remained constant, even if candidates took more care to cover it up in Tower's day (Tower 3).

Immigration, Language, and Xenophobia