Who is looking out for Hispanics in Arkansas?

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Yolanda Amaya works as an interpreter for Jefferson Comprehensive Care System in Little Rock. She says with the expanding Hispanic community, many companies are turning to interpreters to help. “It is really difficult. Actually if they have an appointment somewhere, any place, if they don’t have an interpreter, the company doesn’t provide one, they just cancel,” says Amaya.

Amaya says an interpreter is necessary because 98% of the people coming from Latin America don’t speak any English at all.

Amaya says, “But now it would seem five years ago the population is growing fast. And we feel more comfortable because we have restaurants, we see more people coming everyday.”

The clinic Amaya works at isn’t the only one feeling the pressure to go global. Since 1998 the Little Rock Police Department has utilized a company called “Language Lines.” A San Antonio police officer started it to help Hispanic residents conduct business.

Phil Steciale of Language Lines says, “Typically the service is simple to use. A non-English speaker will call into the 911 center, the dispatcher will identify that person as not speaking English and what the dispatcher will do is call a toll free number that can be pre-programmed into their system and request an interpreter for the language they need.”

Sergeant Terry Hastings with the Little Rock Police Department says it is well worth it. “We have eight Hispanic officers that work here at the city. We have approximately 15 who can speak Spanish pretty well. And then we have taught our officers for the last couple of year’s survival Spanish,” he says.

Survival is exactly what Amaya says it comes down to for Spanish-speaking immigrants. With an interpreter, she says they have that little extra that makes them feel they belong.

— Watch Today’s THV 10:00PM News ‘THV En Español” interpreted by ¡Hola! Arkansas and transmitted in SAP Monday-Friday. For additional stories aired on Today’s THV News check: www.TodaysTHV.com

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