The Pacific Gateway Center recently unveiled a multilingual telephone hotline and opened a satellite office in Wailuku. This initiative, known as the Assisting Immigrants Deserving Equity, is sponsored by the state to provide language interpreter services to limited-English proficient communities in Hawaii.
Designated as a state Immigrant Resource Center, the center offers direct access to interpreters who specialize in languages such as Chuukese, Marshallese, Ilocano, Tagalog, Spanish, and Tongan. The goal is to support immigrants, refugees, and limited-English proficient individuals by providing immigration services, legal services, and social services.
Terrina Wong, Pacific Gateway’s deputy director of social and immigration services, explains that the initiative is a collaborative effort with various grassroots organizations. Pacific Gateway was designated as an Immigrant Resource Center in March and has been conducting outreach across the state to assist the limited-English proficient community.
The center discovered that this community faced challenges in accessing reliable information and resources. The issue became more apparent after the Maui wildfires, which affected a significant number of foreign-born residents in Lahaina. As a response, the Immigrant Resource Center intensified its outreach efforts, helping individuals replace important documents and providing other support.
One of the center’s main challenges is managing the high number of cases and ensuring they have sufficient staff members to handle them. Establishing the hotline and implementing the necessary technology has also proven to be a difficult task. The center is actively hiring individuals who have bilingual skills and strong connections within the community.
Since the launch of the hotline on September 18th, the Immigrant Resource Center has received and made over 600 calls. Services provided by the center have nominal fees, but eligible individuals can receive free services based on federal poverty guidelines. The center also offers referral services related to housing, healthcare, legal assistance, employment, and more.
For those in need of language assistance, the hotline can be reached at 808-518-6217. The hotline operates from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays. Additional information can be found on the Pacific Gateway Center’s website.