March 22, 2002

Administration embraces Hispanic Caucus position on language minorities' rights

WASHINGTON, DC (March 15, 2002) - Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) welcomed Thursday's release of a report by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the implementation of guidelines to guarantee language minorities access to federally-funded services.

Last year, Congress required OMB to conduct a cost-benefit report into Executive Order 13166, issued by President Bill Clinton in August of 2000. That order gives federally-funded service providers guidance on how to comply with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with limited English proficiency.

The OMB study embraced CHC's position that Executive Order 13166 benefits language minorities and the nation as a whole, and that adequate translation services save money in the long term by providing services more rapidly and precluding the need for costly follow-up attention.

"This report reaffirms what we've been saying all along," said Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "It makes economic sense to ensure that people with limited English skills aren't shut out from receiving federally-funded services paid for by their and their families' tax dollars."

"For the past year, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been impressing upon this Administration that it cannot back away from guaranteeing and enforcing the civil rights of language minorities," said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), Chair of the CHC Civil Rights Task Force. "I am pleased that this week's report by OMB reaffirms our position."

"The livelihoods of limited English proficient people in our communities are critically affected by their ability to access important health, employment and safety services," said Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), who initiated a letter to OMB last year on minority language access that was signed by members of the Hispanic and Asian Pacific caucuses. "This OMB study underscores the value of providing adequate interpretation and translation services."

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