Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California
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Torres Introduces First Bill: DHS Communication Enhancement Act

April 15, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-CA) introduced the DHS Communication Enhancement Act, a bill that requires the Department of Homeland Security to assess its ability to effectively serve and communicate with individuals of limited English proficiency.


“Every year, the Department of Homeland Security interacts with thousands of individuals who don’t speak English, often in their most vulnerable times,” said Torres.  “The ability to effectively communicate with the people it serves is critical to the Department’s mission to protect our nation.”


The DHS Communication Enhancement Act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess the Department’s ability to serve individuals with limited English proficiency and requires the Secretary to submit to Congress a summary of its findings and a plan, including a timeline for implementation, to improve the Department’s ability to serve non-English speakers.


“I have spent my political career working to make sure under-represented and non-English speaking communities have access to critical services.  Nowhere is that more important than in DHS’s work,” continued Torres.  “With employees spread across 22 different sub-agencies working to secure our cities from terrorist attacks, protect and ensure the efficient movement of people and goods at our airports and borders, and help communities recover from natural disasters, this bill will help the Department better protect our diverse population and keep the American people safe.”


Earlier reports by the Government Accountability Office and DHS itself have shown deficiencies in the capacity of individual components of DHS to interact with and effectively serve non-English speaking communities.  This legislation will keep the Department accountable by not only requiring an assessment but a Department-wide strategic plan and a timeline for implementation. 


A copy of the bill is attached.