Being unemployed and Asian is rare and, among some, a point of shame

June 29, 2012 at 12:26 am

Tiffany Lane/MEDILL Ivan Li (left), employment director of Asian Human Services in Chicago, continues to help translate Tu Huynh’s mail and paperwork after finding him a job 10 years ago.

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Tu Huynh has been working at a car alternator design and manufacturing company for 10 years.

But before that, Huynh, an immigrant, was unemployed – something that still looms large in his mind because of his cultural background.

“If you’re unemployed, you stay home all day the neighbors and friends figure out you’re unemployed because you’re always home,” Huynh said.

Huynh, a Vietnamese refugee of Chinese descent, came to the United States in 1984.

Immigrants fear deportation with operation “Cross Check”

June 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Deportation fears force immigrant women to be mute on sexual abuse, harassment at work

June 26, 2012 at 12:45 am

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Mercedes dealt with numerous instances of sexual harassment by fellow workers at the Chicago bakery where she was employed four years ago. She tried telling the owner, she said, but nothing changed.

“He was rude and would just brush it off or would just laugh if they would do something,” she said.

Mercedes, 26, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who later became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., finally quit the job but said she never reported the abuse because she had no hope that anything would be done about it.

Women immigrants in Chicago and beyond can share similar stories and worse, those who experience shame, wage cuts and even deportation in addition to abuse and harassment on the job.

Maritza Reyes, sexual assault coordinator for Mujeres Latinas En Acción, a Chicago advocacy group, said that more and more women are coming to them with claims of being sexual harassed by their managers and customers at restaurants where they work. Reyes said her organization has also heard from women reporting harassment by temporary labor agencies.

Many immigrant and minority workers need to learn their legal rights

June 25, 2012 at 12:37 am

Tiffany Lane/MEDILL Fifteen-year Innerpac Inc. employee, Apolinar Mendoza, was one of many workers let go when the company reorganized more than a month ago.

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Apolinar Mendoza worked at Innerpac Inc. in Cicero for 15 years before he and more than 100 other employees were laid off more than a month ago when the business reorganized.

Some who had been with the company for decades received only a few weeks’ severance pay, he said.

“After so many years, we deserve better and we deserve more,” Mendoza said while picketing outside the downtown office of former Innerpac president Gene Marino on Tuesday.

Speaking through a translator, Mendoza said he was making $10.88 an hour when he was laid off. He had not received a raise for three years, he said, and his previous raises had been approximately 10 cents an hour.

Leone Jose Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, said workers like Mendoza are vital to agricultural, food and industrial businesses in the United States.

Abuse of sexual minority immigrants in ICE custody is systematic, complaint contends

June 24, 2012 at 12:26 am

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Thirteen immigrants have lodged an official complaint alleging they were mistreated while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

The 13 say the abuse occurred because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

They filed a complaint through the Chicago Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

One of the individuals, who was held at the Houston Processing Center in Texas from December 2009 to December 2010, is HIV positive and needs to obtain blood work for his treatment.  In the complaint, he said he was shackled at his feet, waist and hands while having blood drawn.

A preschool provides children a way to keep their cultural roots

June 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm