\ afm \ Adjudicator's Field Manual - Redacted Public Version \ Chapter 15 Interviewing. \ 15.7 Use of Interpreters.
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Use of Interpreters.
Following are guidelines for interviews requiring the use of interpreters:
If the person being questioned exhibits difficulty in speaking and understanding English, arrangements should be made for use of an interpreter even though the person may be willing to proceed without an interpreter. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the use of an interpreter.
Ideally, the services of a disinterested person should be employed as an interpreter. However, in the exercise of judgment, a witness, friend, or relative of the subject may be utilized as an interpreter, depending upon the issues involved and the possibility of adverse action against the subject.
If the interpreter used is an employee of USCIS or DHS, he or she need not be sworn. He or she should, however, be identified for the record.
If the interpreter is not a USCIS or DHS employee, he or she should be identified and questioned as to his ability to speak and translate into English the language of the person being questioned, and vice versa. Also, he or she should be placed under oath to interpret and translate all questions and answers accurately and literally. The interpreter's oath should be administered as follows:
"Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that in connection with this proceedings you will truthfully, literally, and fully translate the questions asked by me into the _______
language and that you will truthfully, literally, and fully translate answers to such questions into the English language?"
If a verbatim record is made, the oath should be shown in the record.
The subject's attorney or representative should not be utilized as an interpreter in his client's behalf although under some circumstances an exception to this may be made if the interests of the Government will not be prejudiced.
The record should show that the interpreter and the person being questioned have conversed in the latter's language and that they understand each other. This is especially important when questioning persons whose native language has many dialects, such as Chinese. The record should also indicate what language and dialect is being used in the questioning.
The subject should be informed at the beginning of the questioning that he should advise the adjudicator if he fails to understand the interpreter.
It is desirable in taking a verbatim record in a complex case to check from time to time to ensure that the interpreter and the person being questioned understand each other. Such checks should be noted in the record.
In using an interpreter it is imperative that the adjudicator instruct the interpreter in his or her duties.
It is essential that the interpreter be strictly limited to furnishing verbatim interpretations. For example, if the subject answers, "I don't understand the question", the answer is to be given by the interpreter. Under no circumstances is the interpreter to attempt an explanation of his own. The interpreter must understand that he or she acts only as a voice, nothing else. Constant guard is needed to overcome the natural impulse of an interpreter to attempt to explain or clear up questions asked. The
adjudicator will lose control of the situation and be unaware of what is transpiring unless he or she insists that the interpreter repeat verbatim the answer the subject makes. If any explanation is required, it is the function of the adjudicator and not of the interpreter to rephrase or change the question. In this manner the adjudicator knows exactly what is being adduced and is not being given a summary by the interpreter of what the witness says. The interpreter should never be permitted to say, "He
says". He or she is to repeat by translation into the appropriate language the exact question or answer as it was expressed initially.
The adjudicator should not permit conversations or explanations, and should not accept a reply such as "He says, 'No'" after a lengthy conversation between the interpreter and the subject.
The interviewer must remain alert to the possibility that shades of meaning may be missed.
of this manual regarding translations used as evidence.