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Latino Daily News

Thursday January 26, 2012

AZ Latino Candidate Forced to Withdraw Due to Poor English Skills

AZ Latino Candidate Forced to Withdraw Due to Poor English Skills

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Alejandrina Cabrera, a candidate for city council in San Luis, Arizona, was forced to withdraw from the election because of her lack of fluency in English, the Yuma Sun reported Thursday.

Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson on Wednesday evening, after a lengthy court session, ordered that Cabrera’s name be removed from the ballots for the municipal election in March.

Nelson ruled that Cabrera is incapable of carrying out the public duties of the post she was running for because she does not speak English well enough, coming to that decision after analyzing the conclusions of an expert in socio-linguistics who said that despite her efforts the candidate had not achieved an acceptable level of fluency.

Arizona state laws establish that a person in public office must speak English, but Cabrera’s lawyer argued that the standards for English fluency are not precisely defined.

The legal proceedings were begun after San Luis Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla in December asked for Cabrera’s level of English fluency to be officially determined.

The candidate, who has been very critical of Escamilla, acknowledged during the hearing that she speaks “little English,” but she said that it is enough for her to be able to perform adequately in the post for which she was running.

Escamilla, who went to the same high school as Cabrera, said in an interview with local television that he is not 100 percent fluent in English himself, but he can get by well and can “write, read and speak very well.”

In San Luis, which is on the border with Mexico, more than 90 percent of the population is Hispanic and the language used in a large portion of the local households is Spanish, according to Census data.