When Republican Tim James campaigned for governor of Alabama in 2010, he didn't shy away from the hot-button issue of immigration. But instead of proposing greater police authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer -- a controversial move in its own right -- he called out the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for issuing the driver's license exam in 12 different languages.
"This is Alabama," James says in his now infamous 2010 TV ad. "We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it." James' comments echo a larger "English-only" movement that persists in the more conservative outposts of the Republican party. The ad was widely condemned as xenophobic or worse, but James defended his English-only DMV proposal as a matter of highway safety.
"Political correctness may endear you to the Rachel Maddow crowd, but here in Alabama, the safety of our people comes first," James wrote in a statement to the press [source: Condon]. His campaign staff cited a 2004 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report that faulted non-English-speaking drivers for a rise in work-related traffic fatalities. In fact, the BLS report makes no mention of non-English-speaking drivers, since the BLS doesn't track that data [source: Farley]. James finished third in the state Republican gubernatorial primary that year.