Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good Stuff In TEC: Seattle

Language, laws a challenge for indigenous migrants

When immigration agents arrested 16 farmworkers in a mass arrest of illegal immigrants early this year, legal advocates raced to find interpreters for some of the men, a few who spoke only a language called Mixtec.

But by the time an interpreter was found, most of the men were on their way out of the country after signing away their rights to contest deportation _ a procedure they might not have understood.

The deportations alarmed immigrant advocates in this agricultural city 60 miles north of Seattle. It also raised questions about the deportation proceedings for people who speak little Spanish or English.

"There is no way they knew what they were signing. No way," said the Rev. Jo Beecher of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Mount Vernon, one of the advocates who tried to help the men.

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