The AIC Welcomes Customs and Border Protection’s New Guidance on Interpretation

December 14, 2012

The American Immigration Council (AIC) welcomes U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) decision, announced yesterday, to stop providing interpretation assistance to other law enforcement agencies. This decision, which is set forth in new agency guidance that has not been publicly released, reportedly directs CBP personnel to refer requests for language translation to a list of private regional and state interpreter associations. The guidance does not affect CBP’s authority to respond to requests from law enforcement agencies for other types of assistance.

As discussed in a report released earlier this year by AIC’s Immigration Policy Center, the use of Border Patrol agents to provide Spanish-English interpretation for local law enforcement officers in Northern Border communities has increased sharply in recent years. Capitalizing on their access to noncitizens, Border Patrol agents have often used these opportunities to question individuals about their immigration status and, in many cases, initiated removal proceedings. These practices unconstitutionally targeted individuals for deportation based on the fact that they looked or sounded foreign and eroded trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement agencies.

According to Melissa Crow, who directs AIC’s Legal Action Center, “CBP’s new guidance represents an important first step toward greater accountability, and we hope the agency will continue to refine their policy as needed to protect noncitizens’ rights during encounters with law enforcement. We will continue to monitor CBP’s conduct closely in the months ahead.”

For more information on the use of Border Patrol agents as interpreters see:


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Elyssa Pachico
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