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Asylum Process Hampered by Lack of Linguistic Diversity

by Staff

Last month, the Center for American Progress released a report on the importance of providing meaningful language access to those seeking asylum in the US in order to ensure due process for all asylum seekers. The US attorney general sent a memo to all federal agencies on Nov. 21, 2022, asking them to update their language access plans within 180 days, by May 21, 2023.

The report argues that while the languages that migrants and asylum seekers speak have diversified in recent years, the agencies and institutions processing their asylum cases have not adapted at the same pace.

“The increasing diversity of languages spoken by asylum seekers, a shortage of interpreters, and a lack of translated materials, among other factors, have led to a significant failure of the asylum system to ensure that everyone has access to information in their best language,” said Zefitret Abera Molla, a research associate at CAP and author of the report. “In addition to updating their language access plans, agencies should adopt additional measures to address the lack of meaningful language access and enhance compliance with the federally mandated language access requirement.”

The report explains that the lack of language access at various steps of the asylum process can have grave consequences for asylum seekers, including denial of their claims and even immigration detention and deportation.

Download the report, “Improving Language Access in the US Asylum System,” at www.americanprogress.org/article/improving-language-access-in-the-u-s-asylum-system.

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