Friday, January 22, 2021
Immigration Article of the Day: Language Access and Due Process in Asylum Interviews by Pooja Dadhania
The Department of Homeland Security does not provide interpreters to asylum applicants during their asylum interviews, instead requiring them to supply their own. This Article challenges this deprivation of language access as a procedural due process violation because it denies limited English proficient asylum seekers meaningful access to the statutorily created affirmative asylum process. The Department of Homeland Security’s failure to provide interpreters can silence limited English proficient asylum seekers by depriving them of the opportunity to meaningfully present their claims. Asylum seekers, especially those who are low income or speak rare languages, face significant challenges in finding suitable interpreters. Many are forced to use nonprofessional interpreters who are not qualified to interpret in complex legal settings. Inaccurate interpretation can have severe ramifications, like unwarranted denials of asylum applications, which could result in asylum applicants being re-moved to countries where they face persecution. The failure to provide interpreters at asylum interviews is one example of the weaponization of language access, designed to erect barriers to protection in the United States and subordinate certain categories of migrants. Only by challenging and changing these procedures will limited English proficient asylum seekers have equal access to the asylum system.