A Slip? Deliberate? USCIS Positions English Document in Second Place

By David North on March 10, 2011

I am not an English language zealot.

I do not mind the occasional translation of a government document that deals with a limited-English population being translated into another tongue. Emergency signs, for example, in two languages are probably useful to both English speakers and speakers of the other language.

But if a U.S. government agency is going to print something in two languages, should not the English version appear first? Above, rather than below; and on the left side of the page, rather than the right? (We read from left to right.)

I would think so, but maybe USCIS does not.

Yesterday the USCIS Office of Public Engagement issued one of its stakeholder bulletins, a generally useful practice. This one dealt with a small population (4,500 or so) Salvadorans who are "temporarily" legally in this country, as a result of the Temporary Protected Status program, and whose applications for renewal have not yet been approved.

The non-swift approval of the papers meant that some of them needed interim Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to tide them over till the government's process is complete, and the government is mailing the interim work cards to the 4,500.

Hence the issuance of a notice headed: " Salvadorans Provided with Interim Employment Authorization Documents". That link is to the English-language web version of the notice (here is the Spanish).

The e-mail version of the notice came in two attachments, the same message in English and Spanish. But in this instance, the Spanish message was first, and the English second.

I do not know if that was on purpose or not. If it is a slip, that's understandable (if perhaps Freudian); if not, it is worth discussing.

As a byproduct of the issuance of the notice, we are reminded that more than 200,000 people have been re-approved for temporary legal status in this country, based on a decision of 11 years ago that the nation was too ravaged by a storm for us to send its illegal aliens back to it.

It was 11 years ago yesterday, March 9, 2001, that the Bush administration decided to create TPS status for Salvadoran illegals, allowing them to stay here, to postpone deportation, and to work legally for a while.

Time and again the Bush and the Obama administrations have renewed this status, all because of a now 11-year-old windstorm. The latest USCIS press release indicates that the applications for 208,000 people to renew that status have been approved, so far, this time around.

Whatever language it is announced in, this is clearly a case of legalization by the littles.