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Arizona council candidate may be forced to take English test

January 6, 2012 |  6:16 am

San luis arizona
It’s nothing new for politicians to jab at their rivals’ (lack of) credentials. But their English proficiency?

Welcome to San Luis, Ariz.

The City Council recently asked for verification that activist and council candidate Alejandrina Cabrera could speak, read and write in English, as state law requires of public officials. The action was in response to allegations by Guillermina Fuentes, a former mayor of the fast-growing border city, the Yuma Sun reported.

“I interpreted everything to Alejandrina because in many cases she did not understand what was being said,” Fuentes told the paper, which could not reach Cabrera for comment.

The council’s action could mean that the city hires someone to test Cabrera’s English fluency. In San Luis, nearly all 25,000 residents are Latino and about 88% speak a language other than English at home, according to Census Bureau data.

Cabrera is one of 10 council candidates running in the city’s March primary, the Sun said.  She is considered something of a rabble-rouser, having spearheaded two failed recall attempts against the current mayor of San Luis, Juan Carlos Escamilla.

Escamilla voted in favor of testing Cabrera’s grasp of English, TV station KSWT reported. "I feel I don't dominate 100%,” he said of his English skills, “but I can still get by, I can write, read and understand it very well.”

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-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas
Twitter.com/ashleypowers 

Photo: The desert sand east of San Luis, Ariz., is imprinted with Border Patrol tracks in this 2007 photo. Officials in the border city have recently sparred over a council candidate's English skills. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times

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