As the U.S. continues to use hostile policies to stop people from seeking refuge and asylum in the United States, we look at a key problem that is preventing migrants from getting due process, and in many cases getting them deported: inadequate interpretation for indigenous asylum seekers who speak Mayan languages. Guatemala has a population of 15 million people, and at least 40% of them are indigenous. In the past year, a quarter of a million Guatemalan migrants have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. At least half of them are Mayan. Many speak little or no Spanish. This is the focus of a new report in The New Yorker magazine titled “A Translation Crisis at the Border.” We interviewed the article’s author, Rachel Nolan, in Guatemala City. We also spoke with Odilia Romero, Zapotec interpreter and a longtime indigenous leader with the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations. Romero is a trilingual interpreter in Zapotec, Spanish and English, who recently developed a training program for indigenous-language interpreters.
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