Interpreting Due Process
July 11, 2008 8:30 AM Subscribe
An Interpreter Speaking Up for Migrants:
posted by Forktine (46 comments total)
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Erik Camayd-Freixas is a professor and a legal translator who assisted in the fast-track trial and sentencing of the over 400 illegal immigrant workers in Postville, Iowa, who were arrested on criminal charges involving identity theft rather than the usual deportation proceedings. Unusually for a court interpreter, who maintain a strict code of impartiality and neutrality, Camayd-Freixas spoke out, writing "that the immigrant defendants whose words he translated, most of them villagers from Guatemala, did not fully understand the criminal charges they were facing or the rights most of them had waived."
The Times article has a video interview with Camayd-Freixas.
His 14-page essay can be read here
(pdf). It is vividly-written:
He stared for a while at the signature page pretending to read it, although I knew he was actually praying for guidance and protection. Before he signed with a scribble, he said: “God knows you are just doing your job to support your families, and that job is to keep me from supporting mine.” There was my conflict of interest, well put by a weeping, illiterate man.
Adding an additional layer of ethical complication is that many of the workers were Mayan Indians from Guatamala -- the people who were victims of a massive genocide
in the 1980s.