Retaining Hispanics, Spanish speakers key, Coast Guard chief says

The Coast Guard is focusing on retaining Hispanic and Spanish-speaking front-line workers as it aims to intercept illegal immigrants, the service's leader said Monday.

The Coast Guard's ability to maintain itself in national crises such as the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina has contributed to its best retention record since World War II, said Commandant Adm. Thad Allen at the Excellence in Government conference in Washington.

"We're doing very, very well," Allen told attendees of the conference, which is co-sponsored by Government Executive.

The current Coast Guard workforce both meets diversity goals and operational demands for having Spanish-speaking workers on hand to communicate with apprehended illegal immigrants, he said. Allen, who spent several years with the Coast Guard in south Florida, said as immigration enforcement is tightened, it's important that federal officials speak the language of those apprehended.

He said the battle against illegal immigration often is "gut-wrenching," especially when "young kids" are charged with the tasks of tracking, and catching, human traffickers who pack people into boats and race along the Florida coastline in an attempt to elude American enforcement.

Those who are fortunate enough to survive the escape to America - and not fortunate enough to elude enforcement - find themselves in the hands of a workforce that is often challenged by a language barrier.

As Allen looks to retain Hispanics in addition to Spanish speakers, statistics show that across government, Hispanics are joining the workforce in growing numbers. But they are underrepresented in the federal workplace, according to 2005 data published earlier this year by the Office of Personnel Management. Hispanics account for 7.4 percent of federal employees, but 12.6 percent of the general workforce, the figures show.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.