October 1st, 2007
04:38 PM ET
11 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. R.U. Inbred, Hicksville, USA

    Imagine if you went to a foreign country and you saw a sign that said "Speak english and you will be tortured"

    Don't be meatheads. Freedom of speach should be global. We fight in Iraq to give them freedom but we dont want to give freedom to non-english speakers here in the US.

    All you meatheads need to think before you type with your fat fingers.

    October 1, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Lisa Frascino, Aberdeen, NJ

    My grandparents came from Italy and Poland. In order to come to this country, they had to enter through Ellis Island, have a sponsor, a medical check (if you were ill, you were quarantined or sent back), a job set up, and a place to live. They all learned the English language and spoke it fluently. Ellis Island worked! I travel rather regularly to other countries and do everything in my power to learn the language and some of the customs of the culture before I travel. That's not too much to ask when you visit another country, why is it wrong, then, to ask that of people who want to make new lives for themselves here?

    October 1, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. BP Chicago, IL

    If any American citizen moved to another country they would be expected to learn the language. They may only learn enough to do common things, such as order a sandwich, but it would be expected.

    October 1, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. mark, Santa Barbara, CA

    "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."

    Does that include Bush?

    October 1, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. sasha kando

    I am an immigrant to this country. But i certainly agree that all immigrnats should learn to speak the country of their citizenship, especially if they are not very very old (they may find it more difficult). This is one way of making you belong and operate in this country. I have also lived in other European countries and have learnt very basic language of those countries in order to survive. So if you think that this is your country of choice to live in, you should and must learn English although you can use your own language with others you do the same. So I don't understand why it is such a BIG deal. If you want to import or implement your own customs, cultures and language here, it would be best for you to remain in your original country.

    October 1, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Jack Bavaro

    What a disgusting attitude exhibited by this food merchant. Mr. Giuliani should know better than to associate himself with such intolerance. He has betrayed his roots for political convenience and will alienate the very voters who got him elected in nyc, hispanic american voters.

    October 1, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Sam, Houston, TX

    It has gotten so INSANE with Political Correctness in this country. Since when do we HAVE to allow anybody who wants to come here into our country?!? I have seen how Mexicanos "deteriorate" entire neighborhoods with their "culture". Yeah, right. We don't want them here; so why is it like we canNOT deny people we don't want here to not come here?!? It's like the ILLEGALS now have A RIGHT to come here, whether we want them here or not!!! CRAZEEE!!

    October 1, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Dee T. Frisco, Texas

    FANTASTIC !!!! It is about time that a politician took a stance on this issue !

    October 1, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Billy Santana, Cape Canaveral, Fl.

    Well, after passing the citizenship test, immigrants would probably end up being more knowledgeable about the U.S. Government than your average American. Sad, but true...

    October 1, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. Steve, Portland, OR

    Seems kinda rediculous that for 200 years everyone needed to learn English as part of the assimilation process. Now our politicaly correct goevernment is making info signs in at least two languages. English and Spanish. Some times several others. The US citizenship test I believe is in english. Get rid of the government intervention in this and the people will learn english out of necessity just as about every other country has it's primary language.Certainly the ones I've been in and yes I did have to order my food in their language as it was just expected, no signs needed.

    This is a non issue that will solve itself if the government would just stay out of it instead of giving in to special interest groups.

    October 1, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Yoyo Laredo,Texas

    People Please STOP Saying this is AMERICA... Wrong...This is North America...Part of the merican Continent... And Please STOP calling all Latinos MEXICANS.. We are not all mexicans some of us get offended been called mexicans....

    October 1, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. Anthony Rebero, Tampa, FL

    This is nothing but a political stunt by Guliani to get republican nomination. As you all know that the registered republican voters are 90% white. So, Mr. Guliani has nothing to loose if he aliniates Spanish speaking people. However, one he gets nominated he is bound to take a softer tone to get the votes from hispanics and cuban americans from Florida.

    October 1, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. Barry, St. Louis, MO

    Lets just say what many are thinking. We have no issue with Hawaiian or Native American dialect as these are languages that are indigenous to our Nation. Our Hawaiian and Native American citizens not only speak their native languages, but speak English articulately and effectively. The majority of illegal immigrants speak poor, broken, or no English. This is taxing and costly to the citizens of our great nation. Consider the cost of training our 911 operator alone, are we just training Mandarin, or are their fluent German operators as well? Will the US Post Office, The IRS or the Department of Health and Human Service have Italian, French and Portuguese translators available the next time you call their 800 number? Or will it just be Spanish?

    October 1, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Martin Tavares, Manaus, Brazil

    In other words, all you American tourists who visit our cities in Brazil should be forced to speak Portuguese in our restaurants because Brazil is a Portuguese-speaking country (which will likely shock those of you who think we speak Spanish here)? Even if the United States HAD an official language, which it does NOT, why would you force it upon EVERYONE? Isn't this restaurant a tourist destination? In other words, stay away all you foreigners?!? No problem.

    October 1, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. Don, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    What? Immigrants should learn to speak English? The next thing you know, they'll be expected to pay federal income tax, buy car insurance, and live in non-subsidized housing!

    October 1, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Steve, Cuyahoga Falls OH

    It's amazing how upset people get when their ignorance and lack of education is pointed out. U.S. citizens are behind the world in learning languages. Oh well, we lag behind in almost every other educational category so why not add another to the list.

    October 1, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Stan from Canada

    How myopic most of these comments are! If you want business, you will accomodate your customers...and you should do so cheerfully as best as you can. The world is much bigger than English only. If you tell me that there are no tourism in Philadephia, then fine that would leave only the newly minted US citizens who don't live up to Geno's standards and haven't learned English yet that will be discriminated against

    October 1, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  18. Steven, Vernon CT

    No large immigrant group has ever come to this nation knowing English already except for the Englsih, the Scots and the Irish. Most groups learn the language in the second generation. When I lived in NYC, I had neighbors who had been in the country for fifty years and still spoke Italian or Chinese. Their children, however, were fluent in English. This is the norm, I think.

    October 1, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  19. Karen M. -NYC !

    Now that I think about it... maybe that's the reason why Rudy sent his police mob to attack old helpless women and black children during his seating as the NYC Mayor... because they didn't fit in with his view of what AMERICANS are....

    First I want to thank Rudy for running for the Presidency... no one can show or tell the American people what a nut job this guy and his family is, sometimes folks just need to see if for themselves.

    Rudy will not change; if he had it his way every non-white person will be locked up in some stow away prison where his 3rd wife is the warden.

    Rudy is and has always been a very dangerous person. Maybe this event will encourage the American people to research the real Rudy pre-9/11... or pre-walking down the street asking what a lock down is on 9/11... then you'll meet the real Rudy.. the savior of 9/11 street walking fast tracking his security firm career made of gold with no Washington experience ready to lock down America from the American people.

    October 1, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. Stephen Wright, Bethlehem, PA

    I wonder if the owner of Geno's has ever been anywhere besides Philadelphia, Italy or Florida. I'd like to see him struggle through an order at a Parisian market. This is just some bonehead with the IQ of a cheesesteak flexing his muscles. Philly cheesesteak shops are notoriously unfriendly places and he is just aggravated because someone can't say "wit onions". What kind of English is that?

    October 1, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. EB Rideout

    Anyone that has ever listened to one of his rambling, fractured speeches knows that this visit could help him learn the language.

    It's cheaper than an adult-ed evening course, too.

    October 1, 2007 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. Bob, NY, NY

    Someone needs to ask Rudy if he would apply that same standard to people playing baseball for the NY Yankees

    October 1, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. Bill C

    Don't get lured into this and other wedge issues! Let's say, that a law is passed tomorrow that makes English the official language, bans flag burning, etc. How does that solve any of the problems that really matter? We'll still be stuck with the mess in Iraq, we'll still have a budget/deficit that is wildly out of control, and we still won't have any solutions for the other big items (health care, global warming, etc, etc). Issues like this are meant to take your mind off the big stuff. To distract you from choosing leaders who will come up with solutions to the things that matter. Don't fall for it. The wedge issues should only matter if you think everything else is absolutely perfect.

    October 1, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. xtina - chicago IL

    All I want to say was said already by the concise statement of Don, of Mt. Prospect !

    October 1, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. xtina - chicago, IL

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Mark in Rio; don't jump right into passing laws for every infraction and slight that occurs in this country. We are after all, a free country. I swear, the more laws they (Dems and Repubs alike) put on the books, the more Im liking the libertarian outlook.

    October 1, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
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