Council members Steven Neal and Dee Andrews proposed in November 2011 that a universal language access policy be drafted to allow citizens that don’t speak English greater opportunity for civic engagement.
The initiative, dubbed CD-6, was accepted unanimously at the November council meeting, but after a period of review that was supposed to last only 90 days, the Non profit groups charged with the task of drafting the policy have not yet returned a plan of action for the council to proceed with. Several groups including: The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Housing Long Beach,CentroCha, and United Cambodian Community were included in the drafting of the policy.
In an article dated November 3, 2011 by staff of the Long Beach Post; Sarah Pol-Lim of the United Cambodian Community said, “Language access is the #1 barrier to the success of immigrant integration for the residents of Long Beach.”
Lim’s feelings are resounded by Esther Del Valle, a graduate of the Downtown Long Beach Neighborhood Resource Center’s leadership academy, who along with her sister Ana, strives to address the problems in her neighborhood near PCH and Atlantic. Esther Says in the video, “to be able to have them hear the voice of the community, and feel us, would be a grand opportunity.”
The initiative has been met with much criticism online in the comments sections of articles like the one above. The stance of more socially conservative citizens of Long Beach seems to be: The language barrier is not a problem of access, but an unwillingness of the immigrant in The United States to learn English.
City officials at the Neighborhood Resource Center where Esther was trained, as well as councilman Dee Andrews were reached for comment, but were unable to contribute as the council has yet to ratify a plan for the initiatives implementation.
Updates on this story will be posted to Centro CHA’s facebook and twitter pages as they become available, with perspective from the policy-writers themselves.