Press Release

AALDEF denounces Georgia councilmember’s anti-immigrant comments

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CREDIT: City of Morrow Website.

MORROW, Ga. — Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) sent a letter to city officials in Morrow, Georgia in response to the anti-immigrant and erroneous comments made by Councilwoman Dorothy Dean earlier this month.

Dean was reacting to a proposal by Councilwoman Van T. Tran for the city to provide Spanish and Vietnamese language election information and assistance for their residents. Dean proceeded to launch into a tirade calling Tran “un-American” for her proposal. Dean also made the false claim that America’s official language is English and that citizens swear an allegiance to the English language as a part of their oath of citizenship. These statements are not true. A video of the comments can be viewed here.

“The comments made by Councilwoman Dean directed at Councilwoman Tran were disturbing and displayed an alarming disregard for the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act and the rights of Morrow’s language minority voters,” said Jerry Vattamala, director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program.

In AALDEF’s letter to Morrow city officials, Vattamala explains that Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) includes protections for citizens with limited English proficiency and mandates that language assistance and electoral information must be provided in designated languages determined by the census for each jurisdiction. AALDEF most recently secured a settlement with the City of Malden, Massachusetts to resolve the city’s failure to provide Chinese language information and assistance. And two years ago, AALDEF won a lawsuit against the City of Hamtramck, Michigan for the city clerk’s failure to provide Bengali language election information and assistance.

“Councilwoman Dean’s comments were just the latest example of xenophobic rhetoric that has hurt all communities of color, especially Asian Americans. Providing language assistance at the polls is not un-American—in many jurisdictions, it is required by law,” said Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF.

Read the full letter here.


For additional information, contact:

Stuart J. Sia

Communications Director

212.966.5932 x203