December 8th, 2022

Washington, DC — On November 21, 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum calling for a review of Executive Order 13166. EO 13166, which hasn’t been updated for decades, requires federal agencies to assess and consider ways to improve making their agencies and services more accessible for limited English proficient (LEP) communities. The Attorney General requested that federal agencies review their own language access plans within 180 days of the memo. 

The Department of Justice’s decision to update and assess language access efforts across the federal government is a massive win for immigrant communities. For years, we have advocated that more be done to ensure our community better understands how to access federal programs.

“We thank Attorney General Garland and his team for this welcomed news, and we are proud of our member organizations who have been working tirelessly on this issue. We are encouraged and hopeful that our language access recommendations, which were sent to President Biden, will continue to be considered as this important work continues. We look forward to the completion of the review and hope that the DOJ will take this opportunity to be bold in advancing language access across the government.”

Adam Carbullido, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) said:

“AAPCHO with our member health centers, NCAPA, and other partners have worked to make language access, especially for Asian Americans (AAs), Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NH/PIs), a critical priority for the Biden administration. All federal agencies have a responsibility to make government programs and services accessible to all, including in the language individuals can understand. We commend Attorney General Garland for renewing this commitment to coordinate language access across federal agencies. We look forward to continued progress in advancing the broadest accessibility of language access services, especially for diverse AA and NH/PI communities when they are accessing health care services, like at community health centers.”

Kiran Kaur Gill, Executive Director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) commented: 

“We applaud the Department of Justice for issuing updated meaningful guidance on language access. The Sikh American has experienced multiple tragedies over the past year from the shootings in Indianapolis to the murders in Merced. Those incidents and multiple other community experiences demonstrate the importance of supporting communities in-language and increasing accessibility to federal services.”

Priya Purandare, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) stated: 

“As AAPI lawyers and judges, we understand firsthand the power and importance of a government that meets people where they are in a manner they can understand. We are pleased to see the Department move forward with the recommendations from our report, Interpreting Justice, and advocacy to improve the ability of federal agencies to modernize and improve their approaches to language access. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department and agencies across the federal government to promote language justice and accessibility of services to all persons regardless of their language ability.”

Christine Chen, Executive Director, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) said:

“We are encouraged by the memo issued by US Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding language access as it underscores the Biden Administration’s understanding of and commitment to addressing the multifaceted language needs of individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). The memo shows that the Department of Justice takes its role seriously in coordinating and monitoring efforts of all federal agencies to provide effective language access to their programs. We appreciate that DOJ will be requesting federal agencies to update their language access plans and look forward to seeing them next year.”

Seema Agnani, Executive Director of National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) commented:

“National CAPACD applauds the Justice Department’s initiative to improve and expand language access across federal agencies to better serve millions of limited English proficient individuals across the country. Many low-income and limited English proficient communities struggle to access basic translated materials, federal forms, interpreters, and in-language guidance regarding revolving government policies. We hope that this new initiative will standardize federal agency language access plans and policies, and result in greater outreach efforts to underserved communities with significant language access needs.”

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (AAAJ-AAJC) stated:

“We commend the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to evaluate, update, and expand language access across federal agencies. Asian American communities encompass more than 50 ethnicities and 100 languages spoken, and one in three Asian Americans has limited proficiency in English. It is essential to address language and cultural barriers to ensure that everyone receives vital information and has equitable access to government programs and services.”

Juliet K. Cho, President and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) said: 

“There are 25 million limited English proficient individuals, more than 1/3 of which are AA and NHPI, who are not are able to equitably access healthcare and other government services they are entitled to. APIAHF applauds Attorney General Garland for recommitting the Department of Justice to expand language access and we urge other federal agencies to follow this action.”


Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of thirty-eight national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.