2020-01-17 12:54:53

At U.S. Border, Poor & Inaccurate Interpretation for Mayan-Language Speakers Can Lead to Deportation

As the U.S. continues to use hostile policies to stop people from seeking refuge and asylum in the United States, we look at a key problem that is preventing migrants from getting due process, and in many cases getting them deported: inadequate interpretation for indigenous asylum seekers who speak Mayan languages.

Guatemala has a population of 15 million people, and at least 40% of them are indigenous. In the past year, a quarter of a million Guatemalan migrants have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.

At least half of them are Mayan. Many speak little or no Spanish. This is the focus of a new report in The New Yorker magazine titled “A Translation Crisis at the Border.”

Democracy Now! interviewed the article’s author, Rachel Nolan, in Guatemala City. We also spoke with Odilia Romero, Zapotec interpreter and a longtime indigenous leader with the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations.

Romero is a trilingual interpreter in Zapotec, Spanish and English, who recently developed a training program for indigenous-language interpreters.

Democracy Now! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González.

Our reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues.

On DN!, you’ll hear a diversity of voices speaking for themselves, providing a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events.

Missed an episode?  Check out DN on FSTV VOD anytime or visit the show page for the latest clips.

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