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Mayor Keller Signs Language Access and Anti-AAPI Hate Bills Into Law

Two bills designed to make Albuquerque a more inclusive city for all

Dec. 27, 2021

Mayor Tim Keller signed two bills into law that will make the City more inclusive. The first bill is a Language Access Policy approved by City Council that requires departments to make City services, resources and information more accessible to all Albuquerque residents, regardless of their ability or English proficiency. The second bill denounces harmful rhetoric and racist acts targeting Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The two bills were co-sponsored by Councilor Lan Sena, Klarissa Peña, Isaac Benton, and Pat Davis.

“We’re breaking down barriers created by language or disability, and making sure that everyone in Albuquerque has access to information and services,” said Mayor Keller. “Our city is stronger because of the many communities that have chosen to make it their home and we are staying committed to making Albuquerque an inclusive place for everyone.”

“My role as a public servant is to amplify the voices of my district. These bills came from members of our community and it is truly a time to celebrate,” said Councilor Sena. “Hearing the needs of my community helped push these bills forward and I want to thank our community partners, programs and organizations for navigating the systems in getting them passed and signed into law.”

“In the International District alone, residents speak at least 47 different languages,” said Councilor Davis. “Language access is an important part of ensuring that everyone feels welcome and has access to everything our city has to offer. This resolution is one more step in the long journey to make equal access a reality.”

The Albuquerque Metropolitan Area is home to roughly 845,849 people. Of this population, 67,357 speak little-to-no English and five percent report having a hearing disability. The most common languages in the city other than English and Spanish are Diné, American Sign Language, Vietnamese and Mandarin, all of which have more than 1,000 speakers. These communities and populations enrich our city with cultures, skills and abilities gained from lived experiences.

“During the peak of the pandemic, our office made sure the City translated as much information as possible to ensure every resident knew about resources available and their needs were met. This includes not just non-English speakers, but those with vision, hearing and communication disabilities,” said Beatriz Valencia, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs liaison. “By passing this bill, City Council recognizes that this helps make our City more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”

The City of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity and Inclusion has long been leading the effort when it comes to language access and condemning hateful acts targeting vulnerable communities. In 2017, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs completed a language access evaluation with help from a steering committee made up of various immigrant and refugee serving community organizations. The results found a need for improvement in language access, specifically in City services, to maximize participation and inclusivity to those who are non-English speakers. Through direct outreach, advocacy and creating best practices for City departments, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs has continued to address the need for resources and information in several languages including communities with hearing, visual and communication disabilities. OEI developed a toolkit for departments to use to implement the Language Access policy.

The Stop-AAPI Hate Reporting Center has reported 3,795 incidents between March 2020 to February 2021 involving discrimination and harmful acts towards the AAPI community. The uptick of these Civil Rights violations is largely due to the covid-19 pandemic. The City has a duty to speak out against these forms of discrimination and the City does not tolerate acts of hate, discrimination or harassment. City Council assures its vulnerable communities that the City supports them.

The Office of Civil Rights works to protect the community by prohibiting discrimination in areas of housing, public accommodation and employment, providing a mechanism for recourse. To report discrimination, contact the Office of Civil Rights at 505-768-4595, email [email protected] or file a discrimination inquiry at cabq.gov/civilrights.

To report a potential hate crime, contact the Albuquerque Police Department at 505-242-COPS or call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

For more information on language access resources including translations of certain City documents, rental assistance, transit and legal information, visit cabq.gov/oei.