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New York City - Lawsuit Filed Against NYC For Lack Of English Translators At Welfare Offices

Published on: August 11, 2009 12:34 PM
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New York City - Legal Services NYC today filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court on behalf of low-income New Yorkers who have been denied access to vital benefits, such as Food Stamps and Medicaid, solely because they cannot communicate in English, despite a city law requiring the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to provide translation and interpretation services to these individuals. The lawsuit alleges widespread civil rights violations at HRA centers across the five boroughs.

Five years ago, the New York City Council passed The Equal Access to Human Services Act of 2003 (Local Law 73), which mandates the provision of translation and interpretation services at HRA centers. Legal Services NYC has actively monitored HRA’s compliance with this law over the past five years, documenting the way in which limited English proficient (LEP) clients are routinely denied services at their HRA centers while applying for benefits or while simply attempting to maintain them.

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“Five years ago Mayor Bloomberg proudly signed a landmark civil rights law ensuring equal access to all HRA services. Today, despite a significant investment of taxpayer dollars, HRA is still routinely denying vital services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers in flagrant violation of law. Enough is enough. We call on HRA to immediately remedy its widespread discriminatory treatment of limited English proficient New Yorkers,” said Amy Taylor, Language Access Project Coordinator at Legal Services NYC.

“Local Law 73 is the result of modern-day civil rights legislation, and New York’s language access laws are a model to localities across the nation. The City’s failure to provide the most basic services to all New Yorkers is not only discriminatory and illegal but a stain on our reputation as an international destination and capital of the world. We must treat all New Yorkers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said New York City Council Member John C. Liu, primary sponsor of The Equal Access to Human Services Act of 2003.

“In order to best serve the richly diverse population of New York City, it is vital that appropriate translation services are offered to all people when accessing public benefits. This lawsuit serves as an important reminder to the challenges many New Yorkers face when trying to access assistance,” said New York City Council Member Annabel Palma.


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 11, 2009 at 11:57 AM Al Franken Says:

I like the way they phrase it “In order to best serve the richly diverse population of New York City,” Since when is having a diverse population so rich? The whole city and the nation are going down you know where…
See today people who didn’t earn it are withdrawing cash from ATM machines from the Obama stimulus.
So tell me where the nation is heading???

2

 Aug 11, 2009 at 11:48 AM Anonymous Says:

I would like to know in what other country would this type of service be provided. English is the language of the United States, we are not a bi-lingual country like Canada nor do we post signs in 3 languages as in Israel. Not one other country does this. If you want services from some Israeli Misrad you had better speak Hebrew or bring along your own translator. I say let these fine folks learn to speak English, thats what my parents had to do as well as millions of other immigrants who came to this country. Please tell me what has changed? Next thing you know the Obamaination will require that we all learn Arabic. The United Socialist States of Islam America!

3

 Aug 11, 2009 at 11:41 AM Aryeh Says:

Isn't this just perpetuating the system of entitlement / reliance? Not that any benefit should be denied if it is justly needed, but perhaps redirecting the funds to English Lessons would be more effective. We ought to teach these citizens 'how to fish'...

4

 Aug 11, 2009 at 12:44 PM Anonymous Says:

We should make it as easy as possible for those truly in need to access the system to obtain social support and entitlement payments. It is the compassionate thing to do and is what our President would also expect of us.

5

 Aug 11, 2009 at 12:34 PM Judge should be sentanced himslef Says:

This egotistical Judge should be sentenced to have to do 6 Months of Jail himself, for his egotistical abuse of power, for his abuse of others, just to bolster his own personal ego.

6

 Aug 11, 2009 at 01:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

I would like to know in what other country would this type of service be provided. English is the language of the United States, we are not a bi-lingual country like Canada nor do we post signs in 3 languages as in Israel. Not one other country does this. If you want services from some Israeli Misrad you had better speak Hebrew or bring along your own translator. I say let these fine folks learn to speak English, thats what my parents had to do as well as millions of other immigrants who came to this country. Please tell me what has changed? Next thing you know the Obamaination will require that we all learn Arabic. The United Socialist States of Islam America!

Well said anon #2!! exactly!! Let them go to Mexico to file their suite, whilst we welcome migration and we don't force anyone to have to speak english but to claim 'discrimination' for NOT providing a trans. Wow that is the 'ultimate' chutzpah!!

7

 Aug 11, 2009 at 02:41 PM David Says:

What about all of those who speak Yiddish or Hebrew?

8

 Aug 11, 2009 at 04:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
David Says:

What about all of those who speak Yiddish or Hebrew?

They speak english too. Or they have someone help them! What happened to common sence

9

 Aug 11, 2009 at 06:26 PM Babs Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

I would like to know in what other country would this type of service be provided. English is the language of the United States, we are not a bi-lingual country like Canada nor do we post signs in 3 languages as in Israel. Not one other country does this. If you want services from some Israeli Misrad you had better speak Hebrew or bring along your own translator. I say let these fine folks learn to speak English, thats what my parents had to do as well as millions of other immigrants who came to this country. Please tell me what has changed? Next thing you know the Obamaination will require that we all learn Arabic. The United Socialist States of Islam America!

My best guess is that the lawsuit will be filed by a hispanic. Unfortunately, English is not the official language of the U.S. Just about every poll I see on how most U.S. citizens feel about illegals and pushing one for English is clear indicator that most of us have had enough. Only thing to do is bug the living daylights out of our so-called representatives and do it often. In South Florida, free English classes are given at schools for adults. English speaking only citizens should be receiving free Spanish the way this country is going.

10

 Aug 11, 2009 at 07:41 PM PMO Says:

Reply to #3  
Aryeh Says:

Isn't this just perpetuating the system of entitlement / reliance? Not that any benefit should be denied if it is justly needed, but perhaps redirecting the funds to English Lessons would be more effective. We ought to teach these citizens 'how to fish'...

Aryeh, you are 100% correct. But this silliness is just a symptom of the overall problem.

Why are these people in our country in the first place? If you are not a citizen, you need to be able to support yourself. If you can't, get out. You have no business being here. I do not work my fanny off to support the stupid people who come here from other countries. If you ARE a citizen, and just chose not to learn the English language over the last 5 years while you were trying to become a citizen... that is your fault and YOU need to deal with it. Bring your smart friend who actually learned the language. Why do your neighbors have to pay for your voluntary ignorance and stupidity.

This is what happens in a communist, entitlement society like NY (NYC especially). Everyone feels they are entitled to everything. Everyone thinks they should have food stamps. Everyone thinks they deserve welfare. Everyone thinks they should get their kid's tuition paid for. Why? Why does everyone else have to pay for your voluntary ignorance and/or stupidity? Why did you not get an education so you could have a better job?

The problem with entitlements is that the only people who really benefit are the stupid and the lazy. The people who suffer are those of us who worked hard to build a career and support our families.

11

 Aug 12, 2009 at 09:22 AM Anonymous Says:

If these people can not speak
English, let them bring their own interpreters. English is thge language of success in this country!
Throw this judge in jail for 20/30 years.

12

 Aug 12, 2009 at 10:14 AM Aryeh Says:

We should also understand how the greencard lottery works, and that in a great sweep of stupidity, UK citizens are NOT eligible. This is actually part of the American way: import illiterate immigrants to fill out the bottom ranks of the workforce at minimum wage in exchange for the risk of being welfare recipients.

13

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