Anna C. Everett

Document Type



Constitutional Law | Immigration Law


In immigration court proceedings, court interpreters interpret only those statements made directly to and by the limited English proficient (“LEP”) party. Thus, LEP individuals can only understand what is being spoken to them, not what is being asserted about them. In asylum interviews, applicants must provide their own interpreter, and failure to do so may result in an applicant-caused delay and, ultimately, a denial of work authorization. In immigration proceedings, the LEP party’s livelihood, family unity, and freedom from persecution and death are at stake. The message that the U.S. legal system makes clear is that it does not value clear communication with LEP noncitizens. Instead, LEP noncitizens’ fates will be decided without their informed input.

This Note argues that procedural due process is insufficient if LEP noncitizens, in removal proceedings and asylum interviews, do not have a right to speak and be spoken to via capable interpretation. Procedural due process in immigration proceedings should be expanded to guarantee competent, clear, and complete interpretation for LEP noncitizens. Further, when such interpretation is incomplete, unclear, or incompetent, noncitizens must have access to judicial review by asserting that they were prejudiced by this violation of procedural due process. Congress should shift the burden of proving that the noncitizen’s right to procedural due process was upheld to the government.