Utah taxpayers should not be paying for translators

08 Sep

The Salt Lake Tribune recently printed an article stating that refugees are “forced” to take the Utah driver’s license exam in English. And because Utah is “forcing” refugees to take that exam in English, that has “led” many of them to “illegally” drive with out-of-state licenses so they don’t have to comply with Utah law.


Utah law states that if you want to live, work and drive in Utah, you have to get a Utah license. If you don’t understand “complicated” English well enough, you can hire a translator. But you have to pay for it. Not the taxpayers.

Where am I missing the injustice here?

If you read the Trib article, you would think we just committed racial profiling and are “forcing” people to break the law. Those who don’t want to pay for a translator (how nice of Utah to give that option since the driving signs are in English), then apparently your only option is to break the law and drive to Arizona or Colorado (where the taxpayers pay for your translator apparently) to get a license, and drive in Utah illegally.

Oh the injustice!

OK, obviously sarcasm is just dripping here, but here’s the deal: If someone wants to live in America, they need to learn the official American language – which is English. If they cannot understand the English language well enough to pass a driving exam, they either need to 1) learn English or 2) hire their own translator. Not sure why the rest of Utahans should have to pay for that instead of the person responsible for not breaking the law. And if said person chooses to break the law, the state of Utah did not “force” them to do so.


Posted by on September 8, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Utah taxpayers should not be paying for translators

  1. AAmaya

    September 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Can you dig in the fact that DPS also denies UT Id or DL even to Legal Permanent Residents?

    My mom has been with me since Aug 17, 2010>> got her greencard Dec 3, 2011 (being mother of a US naturalized citizen), because she doesn’t have utility bills to her name, and 3 frustrating trips later to Wash County DPS, she still doesn’t have a driver’s license one year later. Believe me, translation is not an issue in our case…

    • Jen

      September 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      Can you tell me a little more about this?

  2. Anonymous

    October 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Jen, I believe you missed the entire point of this article, which is unfortunate when there are already so many misconceptions about refugees. Refugees are required to pay for interpreters to take the driver’s license test on their own. Not one penny of tax payers’ money goes towards this initiative. There were conversations about funding interpretive services, however, people involved in this conversation all agreed that in order for individuals to be serious enough to study and pass the driver’s license test, they needed to invest in the services themselves.

    The point of the article is that refugees have less than one year to take the test and pass using a translator, which is not a lot of time. Their only option to get a driver’s license after they become Legal Permanent Residents is to learn English, which of course many of them want more than anything to do, but that can take years. A driver’s license gives these individuals the opportunity to get to and from work, which means they can pay their rent, they can access employer health insurance, and they can access greater opportunities in the Salt Lake Valley or other neighboring communities. And getting a job, becoming a contributing member of our community, and integrating into American/Utah’s culture is the way they will move beyond reliance of social services. (After all, Utah’s public transportation is far from adequate.)

    The other thing to remember is that refugees are a unique class of immigrants. They do not choose to leave their countries, rather they are forced to do so out of a well-founded fear of persecution. I strongly suggest talking to a refugee and learn about their stories- this will change your life forever. In addition, there are 16 million refugees in the world and Utah welcomes less than 1,200 a year – I don’t think we can be more conservative with that number when it comes to human rights. So when refugees arrive in America, they do so with the intention of making their community their home. We should welcome those who enrich our communities by bringing their diversity, knowledge, skills, traditions, and most importantly want to rebuild their lives in our community.

    An advocate for refugees


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