Released on Fri, Dec 14, 2012
The American Immigration Council (AIC) welcomes U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) decision, announced  yesterday, to stop providing interpretation assistance to other law enforcement agencies. This decision, which is set forth in new agency guidance that has not been publicly released, reportedly directs CBP personnel to refer requests for language translation to a list  of private regional and state interpreter associations. The guidance does not affect CBP’s authority to respond to requests from law enforcement agencies for other types of assistance.
As discussed in a report  released earlier this year by AIC’s Immigration Policy Center, the use of Border Patrol agents to provide Spanish-English interpretation for local law enforcement officers in Northern Border communities has increased sharply in recent years. Capitalizing on their access to noncitizens, Border Patrol agents have often used these opportunities to question individuals about their immigration status and, in many cases, initiated removal proceedings. These practices unconstitutionally targeted individuals for deportation based on the fact that they looked or sounded foreign and eroded trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement agencies.
According to Melissa Crow, who directs AIC’s Legal Action Center, “CBP’s new guidance represents an important first step toward greater accountability, and we hope the agency will continue to refine their policy as needed to protect noncitizens’ rights during encounters with law enforcement. We will continue to monitor CBP’s conduct closely in the months ahead.”
For more information on the use of Border Patrol agents as interpreters see:
- Border Patrol Agents as Interpreters Along the Northern Border: Unwise Policy, Illegal Practice  by Lisa Graybill (IPC Special Report, September 2012.)
- AIC’s Legal Action Center FOIA requests regarding Border Patrol Involvement in Translation and 911 Dispatch Activities 
View Release