A shortage of certified court interpreters is worsening as law enforcement agencies step up actions against illegal immigrants, reports USA Today. Arrests leading to federal prosecutions and deportations reached record levels in fiscal year 2008. Wanda Romberger of the National Center for State Courts, says that almost every state is being confronted with a lack of certified interpreters – who have to pass difficult exams – especially in languages other than Spanish. There are about 3,000 certified interpreters, says Isabel Framer of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Only 500 work in languages other than Spanish.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts reported 17 percent increase in the number of events requiring interpreters in 115 languages in federal courts from October 2006 to September 2007. A Virginia-based immigration lawyer says she “repeatedly had to reschedule cases because there was no interpreter.” Administrative Office spokesman Richard Carelli says federal courts provide adequate interpreters for most Spanish speakers, who represent 95 percent of immigration-related cases. Carelli said that “finding interpreters for certain indigenous dialects from Central and South American countries has presented problems.”