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March 5, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Exploiting immigrant workers

WORKFORCE
In the region, a number of immigrants who are new to the country take on day labor as a means of supporting their families. Unfortunately, many of those workers can often find themselves victims of discrimination, domestic slavery, and all too commonly, wage theft. (WCP, 3/5)

Fear of deportation is a major hurdle for many immigrant workers, even though employment laws like minimum wage, overtime, and workers compensation apply to all workers, legal or otherwise, and D.C. has been a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants since 2011, when then-Mayor Vince Gray signed an executive order banning D.C. police from asking about immigration status in routine stops or for minor crimes (formalizing an already standard practice in the District for decades).

But the most depressingly common type of case is wage theft. This can take various forms: paying less than minimum wage, paying straight time instead of time-and-a-half for overtime, improperly classifying employees as exempt managers or independent contractors (who aren’t subject to minimum wage and overtime protections), or simply not paying them at all. A 2009 nationwide survey by the National Employment Law Project found that 68 percent of low-wage workers had experienced some form of wage theft, losing on average 15 percent of their annual income.

Related: On Tuesday, March 31 at 9:00 AM, WRAG members and invited guests can attend a funder briefing on Immigration Relief and the Impact on the D.C. Region. The special event will be moderated by Rose Ann Cleveland of The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and  includes remarks by Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; a panel with Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA; DJ Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Services & Education Consortium; and Maya, immigrant leader and potential beneficiary.

ARTS
– Not only does the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities provide financial support to local artists, they also run a gallery space promoting District talent. Currently, the 2015 Artist Fellowship Program Exhibition is on view through March 27, 2015. (East City Art, 3/3)

Street Smart: Art Enables, an art gallery and studio in Woodridge (WaPo, 2/17)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | A Fairfax County redevelopment project will soon include some much-needed affordable housing units. (Fairfax Connection, 3/5 [Pg. 4 & 8])

AGING | Aging in place concept has been oversold, professor argues (WaPo, 3/5)

EVENTS
– Today at 2 PM, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (WAWF) and TalkPoverty.org will hold a Twitter discussion on the economic state of women in the region – the topic of WAWF’s recent issue brief.  Participants can use the #HereNow4Her hashtag to tweet and share ideas and favorite tweets will be featured in a post on TalkPoverty.org and TheWomensFoundation.org.


Thin Mint-lovers unite! There is trickery afoot! I don’t mind, though.

– Ciara

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