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  • The Role of Translation in Immigration

    As U.S. President Barack Obama makes an executive move to push for the legalization of the immigration status of some five million undocumented citizens, the importance of immigration procedures is cast into the spotlight.


    For about five million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., President Barack Obama’s move to push for their legalization through a “series of executive actions” spells hope of relief from threats of deportation and the stresses of hiding from the legal system.


    The president’s actions involve expanding an “existing program to avoid targeting certain young people,” and a new program that will focus on undocumented parents of Americans. While it is still expected to meet some roadblocks from critics, this move highlights the significance and sensitivity of the U.S. immigration process.


    The U.S. immigration process is a complex one that involves a number of steps including, but not limited to, submitting a petition, checking for priority dates, selecting an agent, collecting and submitting required documents, and undergoing interviews. According to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website, documentation may include the following:


    • Adoption documents;
    • Birth certificates;
    • Court and prison records;
    • Marriage certificates;
    • Marriage termination documentation;
    • Military records;
    • Petitioner documents;
    • Valid passport; and
    • Police certificates, among others.


    A standard and strict requirement is that all documents not in English should be accompanied by certified translations. It must include a signed statement by the translator stating that the “translation is accurate” and that the “translator is competent to translate.”


    According to Alfonso Martinez, The Spanish Group general manager, a wrong translation can delay or disrupt the process. “When applying for an immigrant visa, it is vital for applicants to prove their credibility and one way of doing so is by providing accurately translated documents,” he added. “Where immigration is concerned, it is always advisable to work with professional translators.”


    The Spanish Group is a California-based Spanish translation services provider which specializes in professional translation services for personal, medical, marketing, legal, business, website, academic, and immigration documents. The group solely focuses on English to Spanish translation services, and vice versa.


    According to a 2013 Pew Hispanic online article, the U.S. is the “world’s leader by far as destination for immigrants.” In 2011 alone, there were a total of 40.4 million migrants, legal and undocumented, which comprised 13 percent of the total U.S. population. Since the passage of “border-opening legislation” in 1965, migrant movement to the U.S. has been dominated by Latin Americans, at about 50 percent, and Asians, at 27 percent. Largely due to proximity, the largest source of U.S. immigration is Mexico.


    “The U.S. has a large and continuously growing Hispanic population that will be affected by President Obama’s latest move on immigration,” Martinez said. “This is an opportunity for us, not just as a business entity, but as an organization, to use our expert Spanish translation services, to be a significant part of this change.


    Lorenzo Saavedra is a San Francisco-based Colombian writer. He has a degree in Journalism and Economics from the University of Miami where he graduated with Latin honors. He is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian, and also speaks “some Arabic.”



    During his time in the university, he wrote about Cuban-American population and relations, and the incorporation of Cuban-Americans into mainstream American society.



    Lorenzo juggles his time between working as a freelance writer and travelling which is also a source of inspiration for many of his works. His favorite topics are politics and social issues, literary and film criticism, and business.



    Lorenzo enjoys going to the beach and learning about new languages.