Increase in Guatemalan Migrants Spurs Need for Mayan Interpreters

Molly Smith at Reporting Texas chronicles how, several years after the new crisis sending new waves of asylum speakers to the United States, there still is an inadequate interpreter infrastructure to ensure their right to tell their story is protected.

Given the difficulty of finding a qualified interpreter for court hearings, many detained clients chose to argue their case in Spanish so as not to delay the hearing even though they are not fluent. “We’ll remind them that they have the right to an interpreter in their language, but they don’t want to risk the delay,” said Pasch.

Elbia plans to argue her asylum case in Spanish the next chance she gets because she believes she will be able to do a better job representing herself as her confidence in Spanish grows. She also doesn’t want to risk being assigned a speaker of another dialect. “I’m going to keep fighting it,” she said.

Still, she worries she won’t be able to respond adequately to questions that focus on details or specifics of her case, and she cannot read or write in Spanish.






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