Illegal alien speaking very rare language dissatisfied with court translator

If an illegal alien comes to America from Mexico, normally, she'll be fine.  She can live in one of many enclaves in America where only Spanish is spoken.  She can listen to Spanish-language TV and get her welfare check with Spanish instructions.  When she gets her voter registration packet while getting her driver's license at the DMV, she can even be assured that the ballots are in Spanish.

But what happens to illegal aliens who speak an obscure language who get tangled up in our justice system?  That's what the NPR show Reveal set out to explore, revealing the touching story of "Rosa," an illegal alien whose three daughters were taken away from her.  NPR didn't set out to explore the reasons why her daughters were taken, other than to offer a very brief reference to Rosa's husband pleading guilty to sexually molesting Rosa's seven-year-old daughter – yet another example of an immigrant doing jobs Americans won't do.

But NPR is convinced that an injustice was served because "Rosa" doesn't speak English.  She doesn't even speak Spanish.  Rosa, who is so illiterate she cannot even sign her own name, speaks an obscure Mexican language called Mixtec.  When she went to court to answer questions about her daughters' alleged molestations, Rosa couldn't understand what was going on because the court was all out of Mixtec interpreters.  NPR felt she was discriminated against because of that.  Rosa felt panicked, "like a little animal lost in the woods," when no one in Alabama could speak Mixtec.  When Rosa entered the country illegally, she never imagined she would have to interact with people who did not speak Mixtec.  She had no one to translate for her.  Her brother-in-law, who speaks Spanish and Mixtec and sat in the courtroom with her, was present to confirm that.  Rosa, who barely survives living in the house she rents by herself, was too poor to get her own help.

So Rosa tried to learn English.  She went to an ESL (English as a Second Language) class at a church and learned Spanish.  Yes, you read that correctly.  But Rosa still hasn't been able to get her kids back.  NPR wants you to think it's because of racism and has nothing to do with Rosa's possible involvement in her husband's molestation of her seven-year-old daughter.

The implications go beyond this case.  In another situation, a Mixtec speaker has been accused of murder, and the court cannot find an interpreter.  How is it, in this day and age, that when an illegal alien speaking an obscure language comes to America and kills someone, he doesn't get a good translator?  NPR is outraged.

Questions for discussion:

1) Illegal aliens speak hundreds of languages, yet our court system doesn't have translators available for every single language, especially the most uncommon ones.  Why do you think that is so?

2) What would it take for NPR to do an unsympathetic story about illegal aliens?  If an illegal alien raped a transgendered Muslim, would that be sufficient to turn the tables?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

If an illegal alien comes to America from Mexico, normally, she'll be fine.  She can live in one of many enclaves in America where only Spanish is spoken.  She can listen to Spanish-language TV and get her welfare check with Spanish instructions.  When she gets her voter registration packet while getting her driver's license at the DMV, she can even be assured that the ballots are in Spanish.

But what happens to illegal aliens who speak an obscure language who get tangled up in our justice system?  That's what the NPR show Reveal set out to explore, revealing the touching story of "Rosa," an illegal alien whose three daughters were taken away from her.  NPR didn't set out to explore the reasons why her daughters were taken, other than to offer a very brief reference to Rosa's husband pleading guilty to sexually molesting Rosa's seven-year-old daughter – yet another example of an immigrant doing jobs Americans won't do.

But NPR is convinced that an injustice was served because "Rosa" doesn't speak English.  She doesn't even speak Spanish.  Rosa, who is so illiterate she cannot even sign her own name, speaks an obscure Mexican language called Mixtec.  When she went to court to answer questions about her daughters' alleged molestations, Rosa couldn't understand what was going on because the court was all out of Mixtec interpreters.  NPR felt she was discriminated against because of that.  Rosa felt panicked, "like a little animal lost in the woods," when no one in Alabama could speak Mixtec.  When Rosa entered the country illegally, she never imagined she would have to interact with people who did not speak Mixtec.  She had no one to translate for her.  Her brother-in-law, who speaks Spanish and Mixtec and sat in the courtroom with her, was present to confirm that.  Rosa, who barely survives living in the house she rents by herself, was too poor to get her own help.

So Rosa tried to learn English.  She went to an ESL (English as a Second Language) class at a church and learned Spanish.  Yes, you read that correctly.  But Rosa still hasn't been able to get her kids back.  NPR wants you to think it's because of racism and has nothing to do with Rosa's possible involvement in her husband's molestation of her seven-year-old daughter.

The implications go beyond this case.  In another situation, a Mixtec speaker has been accused of murder, and the court cannot find an interpreter.  How is it, in this day and age, that when an illegal alien speaking an obscure language comes to America and kills someone, he doesn't get a good translator?  NPR is outraged.

Questions for discussion:

1) Illegal aliens speak hundreds of languages, yet our court system doesn't have translators available for every single language, especially the most uncommon ones.  Why do you think that is so?

2) What would it take for NPR to do an unsympathetic story about illegal aliens?  If an illegal alien raped a transgendered Muslim, would that be sufficient to turn the tables?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.