October 1st, 2007
04:38 PM ET
7 years ago

Giuliani to make 'English only' cheesesteak stop

Giuliani plans a stop at the famous Geno's steaks later Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – It's almost a necessity for any presidential candidate who swings through Philadelphia - making a stop at one of the city's famous cheesesteak shops.

But the landmark Philly restaurant former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani plans to stop at later Monday is also famous for another reason: its controversial 'Please speak English' sign.

Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's Steaks, sparked controversy last year when he put up a sign at his store proclaiming, "This is America. When Ordering Please Speak English."

Rachel Lawton, the executive director of the city's Human Relations Commission (HRC), blasted the sign in June 2006, saying it amounts to discrimination against those who cannot speak English. A hearing on the sign was scheduled last Wednesday but was postponed because the city wanted more time to review Vento's motion to dismiss the case, according to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

Giuliani, a Republican presidential frontrunner, has taken a hard stance on illegal immigration, formally pledging last August to solve the problem if elected president.

According to his Web site, Giuliani also proposes that all "immigrants who want to become citizens must truly read, write, and speak English and learn American civics."

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Pat, huntington, ny

    This is one proud liberal democrat who agrees that this is America, and everyone who wants to be an American Citizen, MUST know English. Take that neo-cons! We not all soft on illegal immigrants. Now, hand me a philly cheese-steak!

    October 1, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. T Sessions, Concord, NC

    agree 100%. must learn american history and speak english if living here. visiting and travelling is another issue.

    October 1, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Billy Rubin, Philadelphia PA

    It's funny how sharply Rudy Ghouliani's stances on just about every issue have changed since his tenure as Mayor.

    It would be the ultimate in irony for the GOP to nominate such a flip flopper after the 2004 election.

    October 1, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Daniel, Atlanta GA

    United States of America – Official Language: (none)

    October 1, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Joseph Ward, Forest Hills NY

    This IS America. English is and should be the official language. The one language you need to be successful in this country. Now if I moved to another country such as Germany I would and SHOULD be expected to learn and speak German. That's life people!

    October 1, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Chris FL

    How in the world is it discrimination to tell people to order in English? The cook only knows English. Are every business and cook ordered to know every language known to man? Why can't the visitor learn a few words to order. They don't have to carry on a conversation with the cook, just say a few words.

    I challenge all lawyers to get in contact with me if you disagree. I will make the promise I will smack you down for being obscene and ignorant.

    October 1, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Raymond, El Paso TX

    I'm a Democrat and I also believe it should be mandatory that every American citizen speak the English language, especially presidential candidates.

    Just think, had this rule been in place, Bush would have never been president's'.

    October 1, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Don, Chattanooga, TN

    You just don't know how stupid this sounds...Order only in English...Well guess what when others come from different counties to vacation or visit the United States, there suppose to speak English? Get Real, I hope none of you pure english speakers go to another country and order food, they may just want you to speak their language...Good Luck?????

    October 1, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Matthew L. Schwartz, Buffalo, NY

    According to the current Laws of the United States of America, the U.S. has no official language listed.

    Matthew L. Schwartz
    Department of Linguistics
    The University at Buffalo

    October 1, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. Ben Smith, St Louis, MO

    Why should a bunch of illegal immigrants get to come in, hog land and resources, and then even demand the current residents conform to their language!! That's wrong. Except for when our ancestors did it to the original Americans. That's a special exception.

    October 1, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. James Claremont, CA

    Hey CNN, do you know the Ghoul's record? You'll see that he took a 'hard stance' supporting illegal immigration.

    But he was mayor on 9/11, so who am I to be unpatriotic and question his record?

    /sarcasm

    October 1, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Brian Larsen, Syracuse NY

    I can speak several languages, two of which I speak fluently (English and German). It's time for my fellow Americans, if we are to be a "world leader," to learn how to communicate with our friends and foes overseas. It behooves all of us, in this day and age, to learn more than one language.

    October 1, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Devin Greenwood - Philadelphia, PA

    That sign isn't about language. It's a political statement. Fortunately not all of us in South Philly are so threatened by a vibrant and thriving Mexican community. !Uno, por favor amigo!

    October 1, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Ed, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    I too am a liberal democrat and I see nothing wrong in requiring people who want to live and work here to speak English. It should also be made the official language of the USA.

    If I were to move to another country, I would be required, by necessity, to learn the country's language. The same should hold true here.

    People coming here on vacation is an entirely different scenario. But to live and work here, English must be mandatory.

    October 1, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Gedit Wright, Tampa, FL

    Correction, this is not America, this is the United States of America. It is only one PART of America.

    North America – mostly English and French

    Central America – mostly Spanish spoken

    South America – mostly Spanish and Portugese

    Arogance plus ignorance. The deadly duo.

    Geno should read a geography book – in any language he chooses.

    October 1, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    He wouldn't have that problem if the cooks spoke english instead of spanish.Maybe his employees should be english only speakers.

    October 1, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Mark, Shreveport, LA

    "Well guess what when others come from different counties to vacation or visit the United States, there suppose to speak English?"
    Don, Chattanooga, TN.

    So the workers at this restuarant should learn to speak every language a foreign tourist may speak?

    If you travel to a foriegn land, the burden is on YOU to try to get along and around. I've been to Belgium and Italy, and never ONCE did I demand anyone speak English.

    How much taxpayer money is spent printing gov documents in hundreds of languages?

    October 1, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Brad, Allentown PA

    All the sign is saying is say what type of cheese do you want...American? Whiz? or Provolone? If you can't say one of those three words you shouldn't be in this country. Tourists that come to this country can say it. Why not people who want to be citizens??????

    October 1, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Chris, Phila PA

    When ordering at Geno's you only say two things. One of which is wiz, not sure if that is english or not. Guilani is making this a political stunt just as the owner did with the sign. Plus Geno's isnt that good of a steak anyway.

    October 1, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Yaya, frederick MD

    What's the fuss? Guiliani is like a proverbial leper who refuses to treat his leprosy and spends all his time and money worring about a periferial case of heat rash!! Priorities of these politicians are so warped! American kids are not being prepared for the last decade talk less of the present and all people can talk about is speak English. Everyone else in the world is learning multiple languages and all we care about is speaking English!

    October 1, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Proud to be an English-speaking swine, Slippery Rock, PA

    If you come to America and intend to live here, you should learn English instead of expecting us to accommodate you. Every immigrant who came to this country understood that until the current crop came in.

    October 1, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Coach Haughton

    I think the notion that someone who cannot speak and write in english should no be allowed a shot at the american dream is a bit biggoted.

    Any employer can make speaking english a requirement for work. Any school can make english a requirement for enrollment and rightly so.

    By placing another block on immigrants who don't speak good english we are depriving ourselves of valuable laborers, entreprenuers, engineers and mathemeticians etc. that can help make america a better place.

    How many of the people posting comments that english should be a requirement for citizenship have never enjoyed food at a restaurant where the owners didn't speak english?

    How many of you live in a home in which all the people who built it spoke english?

    While the arguement sounds good, and plays on our irritation with associating with people across a language barrier it is completely at odds with logic.

    I beg for a logical rebuttle from you folks.

    October 1, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Robert, SF, CA

    The US may not have an official language, but it's a free country, and if a private citizen in business is willing to only speak English, that's his business. The Commission on Human Rights here is acting on political correctness.

    October 1, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Will, NYC

    Once again, Giuilani shows he is too inexperienced to be president. Anybody with experience and understanding would have gone past the flashy lights and annoying speakers of Geno's to get a real cheesesteak from Pats.

    October 1, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. bukky, Baltimore, MD

    Being that the Citizenship test is written in ENGLISH... AND (The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers a test to all immigrants applying for citizenship.) yes they already have to know english to become citizen.

    Yes you have to know english to order anything at a steak joint in philly. The sign is just an insult. Big companies offer spanish alternative ONLY because they want the hispanic spending power.

    How many American born citizen can "truly read, write, and speak English and [know] American civics?

    Guilani's "immigration/citizenship plan is Nothing but BS bc it is already law.

    October 1, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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