The city of Chicago in the USA has found that as a new influx of refugees settle in the city their translation needs are increasingly difficult to meet especially in a time of financial crisis.
There are growing communities of people from Iran, Burma and Burundi along with a whole host of other nations. New languages have entered the streets of the ‘windy’ city, like Farsi, Karen and Kirundi. The cities services are trying hard to meet their translation needs.
The worry is that without good translation services these people are at risk of being exploited simply because they are unable to communicate effectively in English.
According to the 2000 US census more than 15,000 African language speakers live in Chicago. With all the bureaucracy regarding entering the country the need for languages such as Swahili is gradually increasing and in turn translation costs for the city are increasing.
Approximately 2,600 African refugees arrived in Chicago between 2000 and 2006, this is possibly the largest number of refugees to arrive in Chicago. Since 2006 around 400 Burmese and 330 Iraqi refugees have arrived in the city and the number is always increasing.
Chicago agencies do try to provide interpreting services in whatever language necessary to all. The Chicago Courts have on-site interpreters for languages they use every day, Spanish, Polish and American Sign Language. All other languages are grouped into what they refer to as ‘Exotic’ languages. The most requested languages in this group are Korean, Russian, Croatian and Arabic. The courts are expected to find an interpreter for non-English speakers within 48 hours.
These services are essential an interpreter can have a huge effect on an immigrant’s future in life-altering situations.
As America tries to cope with the recession, translation services are slipping down the list of priorities for the local authorities. They are essential services which can help change lives and even save them. Hopefully America will not ignore their foreign immigrant population and keep providing translation services no matter what the cost.