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Know Your Rights
Source: Governor Cuomo
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Agencies Now Provide Free Language Access Services

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State agencies now provide free language interpretation in six major non-English languages, helping all New Yorkers have access to vital government services.

On October 6, 2011, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 26 that directed state agencies that provide direct services to the public to increase their foreign language access to help the approximately 2.5 million New Yorkers deemed to have Limited English Proficiency (LEP). As of today, state agencies are now equipped to provide free interpretation in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Korean and Haitian Creole, the six non-English languages spoken by the majority of the LEP community in New York, according to the U.S. Census. Agencies also have translated essential documents, forms and written notices of rights into those six languages.

“New York State government needs to be able to serve all of its people no matter what language they speak,” said Governor Cuomo. “Today our agencies are ready to provide assistance in the foreign languages that are spoken by most non-English speakers in our state. With the implementation of this executive order I am proud to say we are making state government truly work for the many diverse cultures and communities that have made their home in New York.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, almost 22% of New Yorkers were born outside of the US and almost 30% spoke a language at home other than English. Immigrants make up over 27% of New York’s workforce. In New York City, immigrants make up more than one-third (37%) of the population and almost one-half (46%) of the workforce. 

The Governor’s language access directive requires each agency to conduct a language reassessment at least every two years to determine if additional languages will be needed. 

Theo Oshiro from Make the Road New York and a member of The New York State Language Access Coalition said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, millions of New Yorkers will now have equal access to crucial services, programs and benefits in a language they understand. This is a great triumph for the immigrant population.” Members of the coalition include Make the Road New York, Center for Popular Democracy, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Legal Services NYC, Minkwon Center for Community Action and New York Immigration Coalition. 

Steve Choi from MinKwon Center said, “Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order opens doors for many immigrants new to the state and those who have limited English proficiency. We believe that language will no longer be an impediment to access government resources for Korean Americans, Asian Americans and immigrants throughout New York.” 

Katherine Terenzi from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest said, “For all those that have come and made New York their home, the Executive Order has made it possible for residents to communicate effectively with state government.”

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