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