Kansas program to help immigrants navigate driving exams

Kansas Drivers License Office (Photo: KSN/Shardaa Gray)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas is launching a project to help immigrants get driver’s licenses in a meatpacking town by offering free translators during the driving exams.

The effort stems from an agreement between Kansas driver’s license officials and Kearney County Hospital in Lakin.

Meatpacking plants are the largest employers in western Kansas and have drawn a diverse population to the region. But the state offers exams only in English or Spanish.

Starting June 21, a pilot project will offer free translators when people take their written and behind-the-wheel driver examinations in Garden City. The translators will help prospective drivers take the tests in Somali, Arabic, Sudanese, Burmese, Swahili, Filipino and Ethiopian.

The project costs the state nothing because translators are volunteers. The state says it will help bolster safe driving.