Once again the cry goes up in Republican circles for people living in this country to speak English. The same people who are unnerved by anyone who dresses differently or has a different skin tone or worships a different god are driven to despair by the realization that some of their neighbors actually speak a different language. I think it might be useful to recall a little history.
Let us begin with the founding of the American Republic. Some of you may be surprised to learn that in the late eighteenth century, a lively debate took place concerning what ought to be the new nation's official language. English was of course a popular option, but in some colonies, such as Pennsylvania, German gave English a good run for its money . There was even a small town that decided a new nation needed a new language, and went about creating an entirely new tongue for the fledgling Republic [I do not actually know their creation, but I suspect it was not much more imaginative than Pig Latin. Making up a really new language is rather a difficult task, as J. R. R. Tolkein could have attested.]
In the latter nineteenth century, immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe began to pour into the United States. They tended to settle in welcoming neighborhoods, with the result that entire areas were completely dominated by new arrivals speaking something other than English. In the big cities of the Northeast, there were Italian neighborhoods, Polish neighborhoods, and German neighborhoods. Everyone was Roman Catholic, of course, but in the neighborhood churches, the sermons were preached in Italian, Polish, or German. [This was well before Vatican Two, so the Mass itself was celebrated in Latin no matter what the neighborhood.]
The transformation of newcomers to "Americans" has tended to be a three generation process. The first generation -- the adults who got off the boats at Castle Garden or Ellis Island, continued to speak their mother tongues, shopping in local grocery stores in Italian or German or Russian, or Chinese, and learning no more than a few words of English in many cases. The mother tongue was spoken at home, so the children grew up learning it fluently, but in order to make their way in school, they had to master English. They quite often married the sons or daughters of immigrants from different countries, to the great distress of their parents, so they in turn spoke English at home, even though they spoke German or Italian or Chinese when they took the grandchildren to see the old folks. Their children -- the third generation -- were native English speakers and very often knew no more than a few words of the traditional language.
When my grandfather, Barnet Wolff, ran for office on the Socialist Party ticket, his schedule of appearances was listed in The Call, the leading English language Socialist newspaper. The paper listed him as speaking sometimes in English and sometimes in "Jewish" -- what we would call Yiddish. Other candidates were announced as speaking in Italian, for example. Readers of The Call could choose the street corner that suited their linguistic preferences.
This has been the story of America from its founding and before. The current nativist abhorrence of Spanish-speaking Americans is both ugly and ignorant. Donald Trump's mother was born in Scotland. His father's parents were German immigrants. Piyush Jindal, who goes by the name of Bobby, was in utero when his parents immigrated from India [thus making him an anchor baby.] Rick Santorum's father came to America at the age of seven from Italy. Only the Native Americans can lay claim to being indigenous, and even in their case, of course, the migration was just a trifle earlier.