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Language Access at the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes the importance of being able to communicate effectively with individuals, including those with limited English proficiency (LEP), across our many missions and functions. The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) leads the Department's efforts, through policy, to provide meaningful access for LEP individuals in its programs, activities, services, and operations.

A limited English proficient (LEP) person is one who does not speak English as their primary language, and has a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 21 percent of the U.S. population speaks a language other than English. Of that percentage, more than 40 percent speak English less than "very well." An individual who reports speaking English less than very well is considered to be limited English proficient.

Please let us know if you have trouble understanding English or need help communicating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Ask for an interpreter or if translated material is available when you contact us. If you can, please tell us your language (or dialect). You may contact us by phone: Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360 and Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361 or email: crcl@hq.dhs.gov.

The Department has published a plan for providing meaningful access to homeland security programs and activities to people with LEP. This Language Access Plan establishes a system within DHS to implement Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (PDF, 4 pages, 321 KB) (August 11, 2000).

CRCL has issued a draft DHS Indigenous Languages Plan for a 45-day informal comment period. The plan is a vehicle to strengthen language services for Indigenous migrants that the Department encounters and serves through its programs, activities, and operations. Please email any questions or comments to LanguageAccess@hq.dhs.gov by April 17, 2023.

In coordination with CRCL, each DHS Component developed its own individual Language Access Plan for improving delivery of language services to LEP persons. These plans incorporate feedback from a variety of stakeholders on practical and effective ways to ensure language access across DHS mission areas. In Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020, DHS Components updated their plans with information on LEP demographics, including: indigenous languages, mechanisms for evaluating language access within the Component, and use of new technologies in providing language access.

Non-federal recipients of financial assistance from the Department have an obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to persons with LEP, as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Department’s implementing regulations. This obligation is similar to the Department’s obligation to LEP persons under Executive Order 13166. Please refer to the Guidance below for more information on recipient language access obligations.

Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Building 410, Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528

Phone: 202-401-1474 | 1-866-644-8360 (toll free)
TTY: 202-401-0470 | 1-866-644-8361 (toll free)
Fax: 202-401-4708
E-mail: crcl@dhs.gov

Last Updated: 05/17/2023
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