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DHS Announces New Guidance on Limited English Proficiency

Posted by Margo Schlanger

I’m pleased to announce that the Department has published new guidance for agencies and organizations that receive DHS financial assistance on providing meaningful access for people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The purpose of the LEP Guidance is to help those who carry out Department-supported activities – such as homeland security grants – to understand and implement their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI and its regulations prohibit recipients of federal financial assistance from conducting their programs in a way that subjects persons to discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Long standing interpretations of the law and regulations indicate that failing to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access for LEP persons is a form of national origin discrimination prohibited by Title VI regulations.

DHS recipients include state and local emergency management agencies, fire and police departments, mass transit authorities, community emergency response teams, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations that provide vital services to the public. This new LEP Guidance will assist them in carrying out their programs in a way that is accessible to all communities, regardless of English proficiency.

At the same time the Department is providing guidance to recipients of financial assistance on their obligations under Title VI, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) is engaging with DHS partners and LEP stakeholders to improve language access in the Department’s own programs and activities. These engagement activities will contribute toward the development of a comprehensive DHS LEP Plan, which is underway.

In support of the Department’s goal to improve language access, more about the LEP Guidance and CRCL’s complaint form can be viewed in alternate languages on CRCL’s website. Read more at www.dhs.gov/crcl.

Margo Schlanger is the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) at the United States Department of Homeland Security

Last Updated: 09/20/2018
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