Unemployment site now available in Spanish
Baker says other language translations to follow
AFTER THREE WEEKS of questions on the issue, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Saturday that the state unemployment benefits portal is now available in Spanish.
Baker announced the launch of the portal in an interview with El Mundo Boston Saturday afternoon.
The portal was in English for the first month of the coronavirus pandemic, leading thousands of recently unemployed Spanish speakers to turn to nonprofit organizations to assist them with their unemployment application. Forms explaining unemployment benefits were available in multiple languages, but the portal itself was not.
The administration on Friday announced that its COVID-19 text message alert system is available in Spanish, and that the state’s non-emergency help line for COVID-19, 2-1-1, is available in over 150 languages.
When asked over the past month about the unemployment portal’s language barrier, the administration has said that it was “working on it.”
“The new Spanish mobile-friendly application is among several efforts to reach and assist all individuals who are eligible for unemployment benefits and provide the financial assistance they need,” said Baker.
Marion Davis of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition said the move is a good first step that will help the roughly one-third of Massachusetts immigrants who are Spanish speakers. “You can’t stop there,” she said referring to the other non-English-speaking immigrant populations in need of access to the portal in their language.
On Friday, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo joined the growing group of lawmakers to ask Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito to make the online unemployment application available in multiple languages. In the letter, sent to Commonwealth, DeLeo wrote, “In order to ensure that all residents are able to apply quickly and efficiently for UI benefits, I respectfully urge you to have the portal translated into the non-English languages most commonly spoken in the Commonwealth.”
The advocacy group Lawyers for Civil Rights sent a letter last month to Labor Secretary Rosalin Acosta and Department of Unemployment Assistance director Richard Jeffers urging them to make the portal more language accessible.