Language Access and Due Process in Asylum Interviews

36 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2021

See all articles by Pooja Dadhania

Pooja Dadhania

California Western School of Law

Date Written: 2020


The Department of Homeland Security does not provide interpreters to asylum applicants during their asylum interviews, instead requiring them to supply their own. This Article challenges this deprivation of language access as a procedural due process violation because it denies limited English proficient asylum seekers meaningful access to the statutorily created affirmative asylum process. The Department of Homeland Security’s failure to provide interpreters can silence limited English proficient asylum seekers by depriving them of the opportunity to meaningfully present their claims. Asylum seekers, especially those who are low income or speak rare languages, face significant challenges in finding suitable interpreters. Many are forced to use nonprofessional interpreters who are not qualified to interpret in complex legal settings. Inaccurate interpretation can have severe ramifications, like unwarranted denials of asylum applications, which could result in asylum applicants being re-moved to countries where they face persecution. The failure to provide interpreters at asylum interviews is one example of the weaponization of language access, designed to erect barriers to protection in the United States and subordinate certain categories of migrants. Only by challenging and changing these procedures will limited English proficient asylum seekers have equal access to the asylum system.

Keywords: immigration, asylum, language access, due process

JEL Classification: K37

Suggested Citation

Dadhania, Pooja, Language Access and Due Process in Asylum Interviews (2020). Denver Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 4, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Pooja Dadhania (Contact Author)

California Western School of Law ( email )

225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

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