A new study from the Center for Immigration Studies found that one in five U.S. residents — or 61.8 million people — speak a language other than English at home.
The study said the number of non-English speakers rose by 2.2 million from 2010 to 2013, mostly due to an increase of Spanish, Chinese and Arabic speakers. The population of Spanish speakers increased 1.4 million since 2010, while the number of Chinese and Arabic speakers few by 220,000 and 188,000, respectively.
Demonstrators with the groups National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Workers United of Washington and the #Not1More Campaign, protest an increase in deportations and US President Barack Obama's immigration policies in Washington. A new study says immigration is playing a role in how people communicate, and that 20 percent of U.S. residents don't speak English at home. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB
The study said more than one in five school-age students also speak a language other than English at home, but this number rises to 45 percent in California, and about 33 percent in Texas, Nevada and New York.
While the Obama administration is considering steps to create a legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, CIS said its study, based on Census data, raise questions about whether the U.S. is already allowing too much legal immigration.
"Allowing in over one million new legal immigrants a year and to a lesser extent tolerating illegal immigration has important implication[s] for preserving a common language," said Steven Camarota, who co-authored the report.
But the report noted that it's not just immigrants who are speaking other languages at home. "Of the nearly 62 million foreign-language speakers, 44 percent (27.2 million) were born in the United States," it said.
Several lawmakers have presented bills that would declare English as the official language of the United States. In September, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) proposed a bill that would require the federal government to use English in most cases, and would repeal language allowing for bilingual elections.