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Frederick County Board Votes To Repeal English-Only Ordinance

FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) -- Frederick County leaders vote to repeal a three-year-old ordinance making English the county's official language.

Derek Valcourt has more on the divisive issue.

Frederick was Maryland's first county to implement an English-only ordinance. The County Council voted 4-3 to repeal the measure Tuesday evening.

Frederick County Council members got an earful when they asked the public about repealing the 2012 ordinance making English the county's official language. Sponsors of the repeal call it a barrier to attracting and retaining business and bringing diversity. Some say it's just plain unfriendly.

"The existing ordinance that's on the books really sends an anti-immigrant message, a message that says you are not welcome here to anyone who does not speak English as their first language," said CASA regional director Elizabeth Alex.

But supporters of the ordinance say English-only is the way to go, and they're not concerned about sending a welcoming message.

"No, I think it should be English only," said one resident.

"We need to speak English as our first language and then what you do inside of your own home is your own business," said another.

Outside advocacy groups like Pro-English mailed fundraising letters calling the repeal sponsors "liberal multiculturists" and "politically correct bullies," saying encouraging immigrants to learn English is the only way they will succeed in this country.

"There has been, shall we say, a lot of misinformation out there," said Councilmember M.C. Keegan-Ayer, who sponsored the repeal.

Keegan-Ayer says all county affairs will still be conducted in English and she says the repeal is good for business.

"Our Office of Economic Development is having trouble getting a foothold with the bio-tech industries based on an impression that they have of Frederick County being somewhat exclusive based on someone's ethnicity," she said.

But some who oppose the repeal argue the county saves money on translators and interpreters with English as its official language.

The repeal will take effect in 60 days, but officials say citizens won't notice anything different.

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