Most migrants entering the country either speak English as a second language or not at all. Finding a Spanish to English translator is not a problem here in California, but what about hiring someone who speaks K’iche’ from Central America or Creole from Haiti? The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) answer is to use translators who work via phone. Spanish is the lone exception to this rule, but it applies to all other languages. The DOJ cites budget concerns as the reason for doing this.

Quality is an issue

Both judges and lawyers representing clients complain that the quality of these remote interpreters is not good enough, and that their ineffectiveness is leading to unfair deportation trials. Main complaints of remote interpreters are:

  • The services are hard to schedule, or staff is unavailable
  • The quality of connections is often poor
  • Inability to properly interpret what is said without seeing body language
  • Stenographers are missing information said in court because portions of the calls are dropped because of bad coverage

These issues are causing additional problems to the growing backlog in immigration courts here in California and around the country. The budget restraints have also forced judges to focus on figuring out if or how they can pay interpreters rather than the legal details of the case.

Immigration is tough enough

Asylum seekers, migrants and immigrants face many difficult challenges when their case goes through the immigration courts. A knowledgeable attorney can help with many of these challenges to increase the chances of success. This can even include arranging to have an interpreter on hand for the hearing.