The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that immigrants who speak an English dialect may request an interpreter. This ruling was in response to a case where a Cameroonian who spoke Pidgin English – it was clear during the asylum hearing that the court and the man had great difficulty understanding each other. Now immigration judges will determine if an individual facing deportation needs an interpreter before ruling on a case.
A three-judge panel unanimously passed the new rule after determining that it is unfair to deny asylum if the man and the court did not understand each other – there were 36 separate instances where the court reporter recorded the man’s comments as “indiscernible.” Despite the difficulty, the judge failed to get an interpreter for the Cameroonian at the initial hearing and then ruled that the asylum seeker’s testimony was inconsistent. The man was also initially listed as Guatemalan and provided the hearing with a Spanish interpreter who did not speak Pidgin.
Could impact others
An advocate for the man said that this case was not unusual and hoped that the appeals court ruling would have a broad impact on the due process in the U.S. Depart of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services division. It also highlights how immigrants in the immigration and naturalization system do not always have the interpreters they need for a fair hearing. In the matter of the man, he was also persecuted in his country of origin because Cameroon is a predominately French-speaking country. He will now get a new asylum hearing.