Much has been said about how quickly Trump may or may not attempt to undermine the achievements of Obama’s two term presidency, but few imagined the former reality TV star had the Spanish language so firmly set in his sights.
He may have lambasted Jeb Bush on the campaign trail for speaking “Mexican” and later declared that in order to integrate into American society an individual has to learn English, but the least popular President-elect of all time appeared to have bigger priorities outside of updating the White House website.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
Nevertheless, all the Spanish language content on the site was removed yesterday, despite there being more than 50 million people in the USA who speak the language.
The decision prompted concern from many sources, including the Spanish government, which declared:
“We believe it is not a good idea to give up on such a communication tool, given that this is a country with 52 million Spanish speakers.”
Yet Trump’s latest efforts to counteract what some see as the the erosion of the English language and more broadly the dominance of White America are more petulant and futile than usual.
There are certain things legislation and presidential acts alone cannot counter and one of them is simple demographics.
The United States is the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a study published by the Instituto Cervantes.
There are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus a further 11.6 million who are bilingual – putting the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).
Of course, if undocumented workers were included on the census, close to 10 million more Spanish speakers would immediately be included onto the list.
In some states, in particular the former Spanish colonies of the south and south-west, Spanish speakers make up significant proportions of the population, with New Mexico top at 47%, followed by California and Texas (both 38%) and Arizona (30%).
Trump might assuage some voters with his website antics but he cannot make the Spanish language disappear, it is ingrained into US society.
There’s the obvious fact that many of the country’s states, cities and towns have Spanish names, and the uncomfortable (for some) historical reality that Spanish was spoken in parts of what is now the USA long before English ever was.
However, the piece of data that perhaps most concerns Trump and his more xenophobic supporters is that which predicts that by 2050 the USA could be home to more Spanish speakers than any other country.
What’s more, if the population of Spanish speakers continues to grow at the current rate, by the middle of the century around 30% of Americans will use Spanish as their mother tongue – absolute anathema to a man who only just came to power by proposing to build a wall across the Mexican border (despite one already existing).
In conclusion, Trump, and others like him, may like to pretend that Spanish is foreign to the USA, but the historical record and the current reality beg to differ.
And as the 45th President of United States’ poor elections results within the Latino community reflect, individuals like himself may not have much time left in positions of power, especially if they continue to denigrate the Spanish language.
Finally, it should go without saying that all European languages are in fact foreign to the entire continent of America, with Karuk, Cherokee, Natchez and others the only indigenous tongues.