In 2010, a federal directive was implemented that all states will have to provide free language assistance to those with limited English skills that were in need of any form of legal service. In December 2013, New Hampshire began to offer free and ready access to interpreters for those who use the federal courts.
This news was met with different opinions from people. Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis wrote:
Further, aside from the substantial cost of litigation, which would be borne by New Hampshire taxpayers, sanctions apparently could include loss of federal funding for a broad range of state programs.
The courts in New Hampshire have offered interpreters for some time, but it wasn’t something that people knew or had easy access to. Each of Dalianis’s four counterparts agreed that language aid is needed to avoid any accusations of discrimination.
There are also some who are not very fond of this idea. Justice Robert Lynn says that financially stable immigrants, that have been part of the U.S. for longer periods of time, should not have this option as the gratuity will give U.S. citizens the wrong message.
While we should not expect those who come here from afar to eschew their customs or traditions, including their language, that contribute so richly to the strength and diversity of our culture, an integral part of the concept of America as a ‘melting pot’ is that people who choose to immigrate here will meld into the basic fabric of our society,” he wrote. “At the very least, part of this integration process must include an obligation to learn our common language – English.
The new plan simply notifies citizens that the option for free interpreters exist, through brochures, verbal notification within courthouses and also a feature on the official website.
Robert Lynn also says that once the people know of this, these services will be in higher demand, thus increasing the expenses of the court systems. Don Goodnow, the administrative director for the state’s Office of the Courts, says that he does not anticipate a major increase in the usage of free interpreters. He also says that people who don’t speak English already know to ask for an interpreter. If they don’t, their lawyers will.
In my opinion, a country that welcomes immigrants and prides itself with being open to new cultures and languages, should offer language solutions free-of-charge for any state services. Expecting everyone to know English when in the U.S., even for longer periods of time, is arrogant.