Immigrant Rights Advocates and Elected Officials Celebrate Senate’s Passage of the Language Access Act

New York—Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), elected officials, member organizations, allies, and immigrant New Yorkers celebrate the passage of the Language Access Expansion Act in the New York State Senate.

Championed by Senator Tim Kennedy (D-63), the State Senate moved to pass the Language Access Expansion Act (S.3381-A / A.7235), extending the current Language Access policy. This legislation will require New York State agencies to provide free interpretation services in the primary language of the individual seeking services. It will also require the translation of documents related to their services into the top 12 most commonly spoken languages in the state. This expansion will improve access and delivery of language access services beyond New York City, extending to other regions across New York.

The bill will now go to the State Assembly, followed by Governor Hochul’s office to become law.

"The Covid-19 pandemic magnified the disparities that exist within our communities, and those in the immigrant, refugee and non-native English speaking communities disproportionately felt the weight of the crisis. Not only did they suffer the loss of life like so many others, but they were often left without life-saving information and essential communication," said Senator Tim Kennedy, Bill Sponsor, District 63. "This legislation was designed to increase accessibility and provide these communities with the dignity they rightfully deserve. I'm proud to have drafted this policy in collaboration with the NYIC, and the many frontline helpers going above and beyond to ensure we’re opening doors here in New York, instead of closing them."

“As an Assemblymember and sponsor of A.7235, I know firsthand how difficult it is for immigrant New Yorkers to access the services they need when language is a roadblock. Language access is a cornerstone of equity and inclusion communities across New York State. It bridges cultural divides and ensures that every New Yorker, regardless of their primary language, has equal access to essential services and opportunities. I call on my colleagues in the Assembly to follow the Senate’s lead and advance A.7235. It is our responsibility to ensure that language barriers do not hinder anyone’s access to the resources they need to thrive,” said Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, Bill Sponsor, District 72.

“We thank NYS Senator Kennedy for championing this bill and recognizing that language should not be a barrier to any New Yorker accessing critical government services. For far too long, there has been unequal access to critical life-saving services and information for immigrant New Yorkers. The Language Access Expansion Act will empower immigrant communities to advocate for themselves, and to effectively communicate their specific needs – this will strengthen community engagement with essential public services that ultimately provide stability in New Yorkers’ lives. We now call on the State Assembly to follow suit, by passing this vital piece of legislation. We also urge both Houses to include $10M in the Enacted Budget to support the effective implementation of the Language Access Expansion Act, to create a more inclusive and accessible New York for all of our communities,” said Murad Awawdeh, CEO and President, New York Immigration Coalition.