Demolition Politics

Just about three years ago, Kmareka reported on a press conference organized by PRYSM (Providence Youth Student Movement). High school students invited state officials and the press to hear testimony about the work of three Southeast Asian interpreters and their vital role in the community. Governor Carcieri eliminated the interpreter positions as a cost-cutting measure, and declined to speak with the students.

Carcieri should have listened. Federal money comes with strings attached, and one requirement is that interpreters be available so that no qualified person will be denied service due to a language barrier. This was clear at the PRYSM meeting…

Steven Brown, Executive Director of the ACLU, spoke last. He said the cuts are a violation of Federal law. It seems likely that there will be expensive lawsuits, and much wasted time before the interpreter positions are finally reinstated. By then, the three experienced interpreters may have taken other jobs, and the costly process of training new ones will commence.

Interpreters do so much more than translate language. They are a bridge to the immigrant community, helping new Americans to integrate into our society. They get to know hospital staff, patients and clients, and all the complicated systems of each agency. Three respected and hardworking interpreters were laid off, and now we’re back to square one.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says an agreement the state struck with federal officials to improve language services to those who speak little English is thorough, and now the key is whether the state complies.

The agreement announced Tuesday requires the Department of Human Services within 30 days to either hire, contract with or find volunteer interpreters for people seeking help from the department.

I hope the DHS will first try to rehire the three experienced interpreters who were doing such good work before Governor Carcieri decided to impress the base with demolition politics. True to form, he left it to the next administration to clean up the mess.

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2 responses

  1. I agree about the importance of these positions, and as a college teacher who has some ESL students, these are excellent job opportunities for intelligent people who can’t yet write fluent English but deserve a better job than fast food!

  2. Believe it or not,I thought Carcieri screwed up on this.
    Why?Because virtually every Southeast Asian needing the services was legally in the country either as a refugee or permanent resident.We invited them here,knowing they might not speak the language.We owe the Southeast Asians something because we got involved in a seemingly interminable war,and after we left,the communists massacred millions and the whole area was turned into hell for a good long while.
    And unlike the Moslem extermists,they don’t even seem to hold a grudge.
    The money”saved”didn’t offset the way these people were treated.
    We don’t dare cut Spanish interpreters because of political clout-I guess there aren’t too many Southeast Asians with influence at the Statehouse.
    I still detest Steven Brown as the state’s official troublemaking parasite.

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