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Public Statements

Letter to John Kerry, Secretary of State - Diversity Visa Program

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the online instructions for the Diversity Visa Program be translated into French immediately, considering that the submission deadline is this Saturday, November 2. Norton learned from constituents last Friday that program instructions on the State Department's website are translated into 14 languages, but not French.

Norton, in her letter, wrote, "While I understand that embassies have the authority to translate instructions, it seems to me that French, an official language of 29 countries, should be published on the State Department's websiteÂ… I am particularly concerned because having certain language instructions available only on embassy websites, rather than on the State Department's official website, may prevent immigrants from accessing the instructions."

The full text of Norton's letter follows.

Dear Secretary Kerry,

I write concerning the Diversity Visa Program instructions (DV-2015), an urgent matter that requires your immediate attention.

As you know, the submission deadline for the program is November 2, 2013. I was surprised to learn from constituents from Africa that the program instructions on the State Department's website (https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/) are translated into 14 different languages, but that French is not among the languages translated. I asked my staff to contact the State Department to confirm this, and the liaison informed us that the 14 translations were the only translations available at this time and that they will add more languages as they become available. The liaison also informed us that embassies have the authority to translate such instructions if they have the resources and that the French instructions were available on the U.S. Embassy in Lome, Togo's website (http://togo.usembassy.gov/visas/diversity-visa-dv.html). While I understand that embassies have the authority to translate instructions, it seems to me that French, an official language of 29 countries, should be published on the State Department's website.

I am particularly concerned because having certain language instructions available only on embassy websites, rather than on the State Department's official website, may prevent immigrants from accessing the instructions. For example, constituents from Cameroon, Africa informed me that they were unable to find translated instructions on the State Department's website or on their embassy's website. My constituents, as well as immigrants from French-speaking countries other than Togo, would have no reason to check Togo's website.

I ask that you have the instructions translated into French and available on the State Department's website immediately so that all French-speaking immigrants may have access to important information before the quickly approaching deadline for this significant program. I ask that you give full and fair consideration to this request, consistent with applicable law, rules, and regulations.


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