(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) and 40 additional Members in sending a letter to the Department of Justice raising grave concerns about its plan to end the use of in-court interpreters for undocumented immigrants appearing in their first deportation hearings, and instead, use pre-recorded videos. The proposed change would jeopardize immigrants’ rights to due process, worsen delays and backlogs as a result of confusion and lengthier appeals, and ultimately, compromise the integrity our immigration system. 

The Members urged the Justice Department to continue the use of in-court human interpreters and rescind any decision to curb or limit such availability.

“Immigrants should have the right to use an interpreter in deportation hearings," said Rep. García. "The decision to replace human interpreters with pre-recorded videos is dehumanizing, especially after Congress recently appropriated an additional $4.6 billion in supplemental assistance for border operations, including added funds to the Justice Department.” 

“As a clinical social worker by profession, I understand the trauma that undocumented immigrants go through at their first deportation hearing" said Rep. Lee. “The decision to deliberately end the practice of having an in-person interpreter to translate in immigration court is beyond cruel, and having an interpreter by video is wholly inadequate. This decision is dehumanizing and wrong, and the U.S. Department of Justice must rescind its plan immediately." 

A signed copy of the letter is available here.