The refugee family had been in the US for a year, but apparently still had poor English language skills.
I’m posting this story just so readers in present and future ‘welcoming’ towns in America know what they have to get ready for—the cost of interpretation services.
And, I think this is being set up as a possible lawsuit against a police department for failing to provide proper language translation in an emergency.
I’ve heard about these costly services that local taxpayers must pay for, but hadn’t seen any discussion on how the system works.
A Clinton-era Executive Order requires interpretation services be supplied by local and state governments in all sorts of situations—legal, medical, criminal—involving, as they call them in this story, New Americans. I wonder for how many years are taxpayers on the hook for such services for individual refugees (forever?).
From the Burlington Free Press:
When rescuers converged on the banks of the Winooski River on July 11 to search for Ali Muhina, they faced darkness, racing waters and a language barrier in their efforts to find the missing boy, believed to have fallen into the river.
Later that night, after the search had been halted until morning, Police Chief Rick Hebert would tell reporters that the language barrier had caused some issues. The next morning, friends and relatives of Ali told reporters that the family had struggled to understand police procedures and ask questions. A relative told reporters the family speaks Swahili.
Ali’s family originated from Somalia, though the boy was born in a refugee camp in Kenya. They had lived in the United States for a year when tragedy struck.
A police translator during the initial hours of the search did not speak Swahili, but instead spoke an African language which Ali’s father could understand but not speak himself, according to Mohamed Noor, who identified himself as a relative of the Muhinas.
The Winooski Police Department has the use of “Enabling Language Services Anywhere” devices. The device is a small box that can be worn on an officer’s body. When an officer pushes the button, he’s automatically connected to an interpretation center open 24 hours a day seven days a week.
The officer is connected with a translator in one of over 180 languages, who can interpret remotely. If the officer doesn’t know the language being spoken, a linguist can come on the line to help identify it, according to RLL Mobile Interpretation’s website.
When the search resumed on July 12, representatives from organizations like the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program were at the riverbank to support the family. [The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program is a subcontractor to primary contractor*** USCRI and is the organization behind all the controversy about starting a program in Rutland.—ed]
The day after Ali’s body had been recovered, Hebert acknowledged that “it has been a real challenge to engage our new Americans in meaningful relationship building,” and he said he would welcome any ideas on how to improve.
Are you paying attention Rutland!
Someone with some time should look into this group ‘Africans Living in Vermont‘ (see here where one of their employees was accused of embezzling).
For new readers, type the name of your state in my search window. Here you can see all of our previous posts on Vermont.
***Federal contractors/middlemen/propagandists/lobbyists/community organizers paid by you to place refugees in your towns and cities. Under the nine major contractors are hundreds of subcontractors like this one in Vermont.
Their income is largely dependent on taxpayer dollars based on the number of refugees admitted to the US. Here they will act as advocates for justice for the refugees they placed in your towns while you pay their salaries.
The only way for real reform of how the US admits refugees is to remove the contractors/propagandists from the process.
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)