ATA Statement regarding the Executive Order on Immigration

Dave Rumsey, current president of the American Translators Association, has issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration:

As the voice of over 10,000 interpreters and translators in the United States and abroad, the American Translators Association is very concerned about President Trump’s recent Executive Order to suspend issuing visas to nationals from certain countries in the Middle East and northern Africa.

This decision will have a negative effect on interpreters and translators who are citizens of those countries and their personal and business relations with the US. It may have a particularly adverse effect on those interpreters who bravely served with US forces in Iraq.

ATA has been monitoring the progress of the US government’s Special Immigrant Visa program, which issues visas to interpreters assisting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. ATA expressed its displeasure in the New York Times in February 2016 (“Visas for Interpreters”) when the government attempted to delay and complicate the application process for this program. The government ultimately rejected its plans thanks to pressure from ATA and others.

Nevertheless, ATA will continue to raise objections to any obstruction to this successful and valuable program.

ATA values the strengths and skills of its diverse membership, which includes a large number of immigrants to this country as well as overseas members in over 100 countries. The experience and expertise brought by these members not only benefit the association, but the nation at large.

ATA will continue to monitor the situation and encourages members who are concerned about changes to US immigration policy to contact their congressperson, senator or the President through these links:

If you would like specific information on the best way to make your voice count when contacting your representatives, read the Indivisible Guide. (It’s partisan, but provides good tips for everyone.)

I would also encourage all of my colleagues in the US and abroad to practice compassion in their communications and actions in the coming days and months. Individuals on every side of the many issues that have arisen are afraid, but we cannot make good choices and establish positive change from a place of fear. Be kind to your neighbors, colleagues, and strangers in the street. We’re all in this together.




US Citizenship process to change May 5

Beginning May 5th, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be requiring the use of a new naturalization application that is 21 pages long, compared to the 10-page form currently used. Eligibility requirements have not changed. (Click here to see them.)

naturalization ceremony

USCIS claims that the longer application includes more detailed instructions and information about eligibility, and thus should be easier to understand, while others argue that a lengthier form will intimidate citizen-hopefuls who speak English as a second (or third, or fourth…) language and take more time to fill out—a daunting prospect for organizations that assist prospective citizens.

Shortly after releasing news of the updated form, USCIS issued a press release about the availability of a grant for organizations that assist people interested in naturalizing.

What does this mean for translators and interpreters? I’m not sure, but I suspect that legal aid and similar organizations you might do pro bono work for may need extra help after May 5, and again in September when grant winners are announced. Consider offering your volunteer services now. You can help sight-translate forms, prepare supporting documents in English, give short presentations in non-English languages… and I’m sure you and your pro bono clients can think of others. The New Americans Campaign has a list of partners around the country you can contact.

Good luck to all the prospective Americans out there!