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  4. DHS Releases First-Ever Indigenous Languages Plan

DHS Releases First-Ever Indigenous Languages Plan to Strengthen Language Access

Release Date: March 9, 2024

Accomplishments and Activities for Strengthening Language Access for Indigenous Persons of Latin America in DHS Programs and Activities

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the release of its first-ever Indigenous Languages Plan, furthering the Department’s commitment to language access in our service to millions of people every day. The plan strengthens language access for speakers of Indigenous languages of Latin America in DHS programs, activities, and operations.

The Indigenous Languages Plan complements the Department’s Updated Language Access Plan released in November 2023, which identifies Department-wide goals and strategies to provide meaningful access for individuals with limited English proficiency.

The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) led the development of the Indigenous Languages Plan in coordination with DHS Components after a series of engagements with Indigenous migrant leaders to better understand their concerns and interests. As part of this effort, CRCL also worked to identify language access considerations for women and girls in support of DHS goals to advance gender equity.

The Indigenous Languages Plan also highlights several existing DHS initiatives to improve language access for Indigenous language speakers.  For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) procured over-the-phone interpretation services in indigenous languages during the COVID response, multi-state Hurricane Ida response and recovery operations, and response to tornadoes that occurred in Kentucky. The interpretation services continue to be made available to FEMA staff in the field and shared with interagency, state, and local government and NGO/voluntary agency partners.

The plan also includes actions DHS will take to improve language access work in this area, including:

  • Strengthening engagement with Indigenous communities to deepen channels of communication between communities and DHS personnel.
  • Reviewing existing data systems to support capturing and tracking of language data.
  • Developing training for DHS personnel and grant recipients about Indigenous languages and cultures.
  • Increasing access to vital documents through recorded messages in the most frequently encountered indigenous languages.
  • Addressing barriers to access to qualified Indigenous language interpreters.
  • Increasing language monitoring and compliance activities related to Indigenous languages.

This language access work is part of CRCL’s efforts to ensure compliance with Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, (August 11, 2000), which requires that agencies provide meaningful access to its programs, services, and activities to persons with limited English proficiency.  Learn more about the Department’s Language Access work.

Translations of this message and access to the information in other languages is forthcoming.



Last Updated: 03/11/2024
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