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Multilingual lawyers and interpreters flock to Mexico-U.S. border

By Staff

A recent mobilization of lawyers and interpreters at the U.S.-Mexico border is a good reminder of the value of multilingual professionals, Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar tells

According to the American Bar Association Journal, the group’s president recently travelled to South Texas as part of its effort to reunite families separated by the immigration policy of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

The bar association has teamed up with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to create the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project and recently put out a call for Spanish-speaking lawyers to improve communication with clients.

“When crisis occurs, it’s a great opportunity for multilingual lawyers to put their abilities to practise law and speak another language to use,” says Deliscar, principal of Deliscar Professional Corporation, a law firm that offers services in English, French and Spanish.

“If there aren’t enough interpreters there, it’s very helpful to have lawyers who can converse with and offer legal advice to people in their native tongue,” she adds.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported on a crowdfunding campaign designed to send interpreters to the same border, with the ability to speak rarer languages and dialects indigenous to Guatemala and Mexico, including K’iche’, Mam and Zapotec.

“Even though Spanish is spoken widely across South America, it’s important to be aware that not everyone speaks it fluently,” Deliscar says. “They need to be able to communicate in their native tongue.”

The AP reports that Border Patrol statistics show that almost 30,000 Guatemalan immigrant families were arrested at the U.S.'s southern border between October 2017 and May 2018, more than any other nationality.

Esther Navarro-Hall, a California interpreter who organized the online campaign, told the news service that her colleagues will be able to assist lawyers in discussions with non-Spanish-speaking children and their detained parents, in order to get their legal and medical needs met.

“Everyone has the human right to understand any legal process against them in their own language,” added Odilia Romero, a trilingual interpreter working with Navarro-Hall.

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