The New York Times says some immigrants are waiting months or even years to get into government-financed English classes.
Federal education officials say 1.2 million adults were enrolled in public English programs in 2005.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials says waiting lists range from "a few months in Colorado and Nevada to as long as two years in New Mexico and Massachusetts," the newspaper said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., sponsored a bill last year that would have provided $500 vouchers to legal immigrants to pay for English classes.
"If we make it easier for people to learn English, they will learn it," Alexander told the Times. "I think that ought to be a priority of our government, and I don't think it has been."