Buffalo—Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz recently vetoed the Erie County Language Access Act. This historic legislation would have mandated all public facing county agencies to implement language access plans and provide equitable language access to residents by requiring translation of public documents into the top six spoken languages, and free interpretation services for all county residents.
Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:
“The Erie County Language Access Act was passed after three years of tireless work by the Erie County Language Access Working group. Last year in Erie County, it became a life or death matter when two immigrants tragically passed away during a blizzard because they did not receive weather warnings in their language. Moreover, an audit report conducted by the Office of State Comptroller revealed the devastating failings of county departments of the Department of Motor Vehicles in providing interpretation services and translating documents. This veto is truly devastating. By vetoing this historic bill, County Executive Poloncarz has made clear that he is not only firmly turning his back on immigrant and refugee communities in his county, but he’s also telling those same constituents that they do not deserve equal access to the same government services and information as their neighbors—even in life or death circumstances. We will continue our fight for language justice and equity because it’s the right thing to do to keep every New Yorker safe and secure.”