[lg policy] California: Long Beach language policy aids limited-English speakers, including Filipinos

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 20 21:28:56 UTC 2013

Long Beach language policy aids limited-English speakers, including
FilipinosBy Hiyasmin
10:30 am | Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
 0 41 19


Various groups gather in front of the City Hall of Long Beach to press for
a “language access” policy. PHOTO BY JOY PRIM

LONG BEACH, California–After two years of campaigning by various
organizations for “language access,” the Long Beach city council adopted a
language policy to improve immigrants’ access to the city’s services.

Long Beach has an estimated 20,000 Filipinos who are among the city’s
nearly 250,000 Latino and Asian residents. Long Beach has a population of
roughly 500,000. Some 5,000 Filipinos have limited English proficiency (or
speak English less than well).

The coalition began a phone campaign to push Long Beach officials to
release the language access policy draft, knowing that the most common
languages spoken in the city are other than English, namely Spanish, Khmer
and Tagalog.

Long Beach’s adopted language access policy allows room for refinement
through quarterly compliance reporting to the city council at public

The broad coalition is made up of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles;
Building Healthy Communities Long Beach; East Yard Communities for
Environmental Justice; Housing Long Beach; Long Beach Immigrant Rights
Coalition; Educated Men with Meaningful Messages; Aikona; Filipino Migrant
Center; Californians for Justice; United Cambodian Community; and Khmer
Girls in Action.

“We realized that there was no real promise for language access for Khmer
and Tagalog, and we reacted quickly to what these people need,” stated Alex
Montances, Filipino Migrant Center staff representative who attended
coalition meetings.

During citywide budget cuts, the council voted to eliminate aid to language
access, while non-English-speaking residents continued to attend Long Beach
public hearings to address their concerns.

“There were cases of monolingual people, like Khmer, at city meetings and
with no interpreter made available by the council,” stated Susanne Browne,
senior attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


Alex Montances of the Filipino Migrant Center speaking to the City Council
of Long Beach in support of translation services. PHOTO BY JOY PRIM

Translators and interpreters are needed to convey information accurately
from one language to another in different settings and situations, so that
minorities understand basic needs and services in health, work, education,
food and housing services.

The LB Language Access Coalition stated that the city’s language policy
will help residents become more aware of services, be more interested and
less intimidated in city affairs as well as gain more visibility for their

“The truth is that Filipino-Americans in Long Beach are not as visible as
they should be in the city,” says Montances. The language access campaign
had no Filipino representation until Filipino Migrant Center joined the
Long Beach Language Access Coalition in June this year.

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