In October of 1999, the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Health and Human Services issued a Letter of Findings that condemned widespread civil rights abuses within New York City's Human Resources Administration (HRA). The Letter of Findings stated that:
1. Within HRA, limited-English proficient (LEP) welfare claimants were "denied language interpreter assistance during visits to public assistance offices;"
2. "Bilingual staff resources were insufficient" to serve LEP clientele; and
3. "The lack of adequate translation or interpreter services imposes significant barriers" on applicants and recipients of Public Assistance.
Almost two years later, Make the Road by Walking and the New York Immigration Coalition investigated whether or not city and state administrators had managed to correct the civil rights violations identified by the federal government at HRA.
Make the Road New York! Latin American Integration Center and Make the Road by Walking celebrated the announcement of their merger at SEIU 32BJ's Auditorium on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 to a packed audience. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, joined us to celebrate the event.