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Border Report
April 29, 2021

Rare and Indigenous languages add to backlog of asylum court cases, study finds
By Sandra Sanchez



ďItís hard to find interpreters. Itís challenging to fill out forms or documents, either in Spanish and English. And even immigration judges themselves, who want to do a good job and get the right interpreters into court they also have a hard time finding interpreters for these rare languages and that can cause scheduling difficulties with the court,Ē Kocher said
 
A new study found that hundreds of asylum-seekers placed in the Migrant Protection Protocols program spoke 40 different languages, including several rare and Indigenous languages. This can slow down the immigration court process because of difficulties finding court interpreters, and give migrants who donít speak mainstream languages an unfair disadvantage. The Indigenous and rare languages accounted for 337 of the pending 29,423 MPP cases, and included several cases where the migrants spoke many different sign languages and Indigenous sign languages, according to a new report by the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University Most of the pending MPP cases ó 98.7% ó spoke Spanish or Portuguese, the study found. But even a few delayed cases can further clog the U.S. immigration court system, which already has over 1.3 million backlogged cases. And it can result in the migrantsí asylum claims being compromised in court, Austin Kocher, a TRAC research assistant professor who headed the study told Border Report. ďItís hard to find interpreters. Itís challenging to fill out forms or documents, either in Spanish and English. And even immigration judges themselves, who want to do a good job and get the right interpreters into court they also have a hard time finding interpreters for these rare languages and that can cause scheduling difficulties with the court,Ē Kocher said via zoom from his New York offices earlier this week.


Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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