Mayor of Los Angeles mandates improved language access measures

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, California recently signed an executive directive mandating improved language access measures throughout the city.

“One of the most defining markers of our diversity is the sheer number of languages spoken in the Los Angeles area — more than 220 by some estimates — and the benefits and challenges that come with the task of protecting the economic, cultural, social, and political well-being of multilingual immigrant communities,” the directive, which was signed on Dec. 16, reads.

Executive Directive 32 — also referred to as Strengthening Language Access in the City of Los Angeles — outlines a series of six steps that aim to mobilize the city government in improving the quality of the city’s language access services, in an effort to improve the overall well-being of the city’s large population of individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). 

The mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which Garcetti established in 2013, will play a central role in the city’s efforts to expand language access in the city. As mandated in the Executive Directive 32, the Office of Immigrant Affairs will develop an “Inaugural Plan” that will guide the city in developing policies that will improve language access throughout Los Angeles. This plan will be developed by the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The directive also creates a new position within the city’s government, the language access coordinator. Each city department will also be required to onboard a language access liaison to work with the citywide language access coordinator to ensure that each department is following the tenets of the inaugural plan. City departments will also be required to develop their own individual plans of action for language access measures in line with the Office of Immigrant Affairs’ plans.

According to the city, individuals with LEP make up 37% of the city’s immigrant community, making it imperative that language access measures take their needs into account. Los Angeles isn’t the only US city working toward improving its language access measures as of late, either — earlier this month, New York City invested $4 million in improving language access within its education system alone. Other states — potentially influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — like Hawaii and Pennsylvania have also made measures to improve the legal and physical well-being of its residents with LEP this year.

“The moment demands that we institutionalize my administration’s language access policies and practices by establishing a citywide language access program in the City of Los Angeles that is centered on equity and zeroes in on cementing a foundation for future advancement by setting a clear path to safeguarding the extraordinary progress that we have already made,” Garcetti writes.

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Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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