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HOW TO OVERCOME CULTURAL, TRUST AND LANGUAGE BARRIERS TO WORKING WITH THE INNERCITY IMMIGRANT WORKERS COMMUNITY--A HANDBOOK FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS WORKING IN LOS ANGELE’S CHINATOWN

HOW TO OVERCOME CULTURAL, TRUST AND LANGUAGE BARRIERS TO WORKING WITH THE INNERCITY IMMIGRANT WORKERS COMMUNITY--A HANDBOOK FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS WORKING IN LOS ANGELE’S CHINATOWN

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Published by leesiuhin
This project presents a guidebook for public administrators and other interested persons interested in creating immigrant workers centers and working at the inner-city immigrant communities. The guidebook will help Master of Public Affairs students, academics, public administrators and street-level bureaucrats understand how to deal with complex cultural dynamics and language barriers when working with immigrants in inner-city environments such as those in certain parts of Los Angeles.

The guidebook will set forth the process of planning the Los Angeles Chinese Immigrant Workers Center (LACIW) as an example of how street-level bureaucrats can work in the inner-city immigrant workers community. We use as an example Chinatown and the Chinese immigrant community, because it is one of the largest and most important Asian immigrant groups in this country, surrounded with many myths and challenges. Furthermore, many challenges facing policy makers and street-level bureaucrats in Chinatown are similar to other communities, and the suggestions in this guidebook can help them to work with other communities as well.
This project presents a guidebook for public administrators and other interested persons interested in creating immigrant workers centers and working at the inner-city immigrant communities. The guidebook will help Master of Public Affairs students, academics, public administrators and street-level bureaucrats understand how to deal with complex cultural dynamics and language barriers when working with immigrants in inner-city environments such as those in certain parts of Los Angeles.

The guidebook will set forth the process of planning the Los Angeles Chinese Immigrant Workers Center (LACIW) as an example of how street-level bureaucrats can work in the inner-city immigrant workers community. We use as an example Chinatown and the Chinese immigrant community, because it is one of the largest and most important Asian immigrant groups in this country, surrounded with many myths and challenges. Furthermore, many challenges facing policy makers and street-level bureaucrats in Chinatown are similar to other communities, and the suggestions in this guidebook can help them to work with other communities as well.

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Published by: leesiuhin on Jun 10, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/09/2014

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Chapter 1: Introduction to the Challenges Facing Street Level Bureaucrats in theInner-City Immigrant Workers CommunityThe Challenges
According to the 2000 U.S. census, there are 3.69 million people in the city of LosAngeles, of which 10% are Asian and Pacific Islanders (Chinese, Japanese, Korean,Vietnamese and Asian Indian), and 46.5% are Latino
27
. Depending on income and socialstatus, recent immigrants can be classified according to a two-tier system.Those who are wealthy and educated will be living in upper-middle class neighborhoodsof places like Burbank, Pasadena, or the San Fernando Valley, working in high paying professional jobs or owning their own businesses. However, if a person lack Englishskills or are poor, or are a refugee who has come to this country empty-handed, chancesare you’ll be living in the inner-city poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles such asMacarthur Park, Pico-Union or Chinatown, and working at low-paying jobs sewinggarments, cleaning offices, or busing tables. T
hese workers face extreme exploitation,including the absence of a living wage, very long working hours,
and p
oor workingconditions with winked-at health and safety hazards. There are no definitive figurestallying up the number of immigrants working in sweatshops, but there are at leasthundreds of thousands within Los Angeles County. There’s no doubt that they need help.
In Los Angeles there are several anti-sweatshop organizations which support immigrantworkers’ rights. Sweatshops Watch and the Los Angeles Garment Workers Center have
 
 been helping downtown garment workers since 1999. The Coalition of HumaneImmigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) supports Central American immigrants andlabor rights in and around the Macarthur Park area. Korean Immigrant WorkersAdvocates (KIWA) supports Korean and Latino workers in the Koreatown area, and hasrecently launched a massive supermarket workers campaign. The Filipino WorkersCenter supports Filipino workers’ rights in the downtown Los Angeles area. Theseorganizations provide desperately needed services to the Los Angeles inner-cityimmigrant workers community.Yet there is no Chinese immigrant and anti-sweatshop organization in Chinatown to meetthe low-income and moderate-income population's needs. Such a Chinese immigrantservice center, with a focus on building bridges between Chinese and other ethnic groupsand an anti-sweatshop labor support organization in Chinatown, would fill a critical needin the community. Los Angeles does not have a Chinese-speaking immigrant labor community center to help the tens of thousands of new Chinese immigrants in LosAngeles.The post-September 11 political environment has made many immigrant families in theUnited States fearful, while the new anti-terrorist policies of the Bush Administrationhave severely limited the rights of immigrants
29
. Additional policy proposals threaten cutsin both the number of new immigrants allowed into the U.S., and immigrant eligibilityfor services necessary to successful transition once they have entered
30
. Furthermore,more and more immigrants are forced to work at low-paying jobs, even in inhumanesweatshop conditions.
 
For example: a Los Angeles company, the J.H. Design Group, employing primarilyLatino workers, sews jackets for USC, UCLA, and universities in Michigan, Wisconsin,Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Florida, as well as for  Nike, Reebok, Disney, NASCAR, the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL. According to aSweatshops Watch recent investigation
35
, J.H. employs its workers in sweatshopconditions, including: working seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day; working full days,then being forced to take work home, working until midnight and on weekends to meetquotas; receiving sub-minimum wages, often without overtime pay; illegal firings for speaking out about sweatshop conditions; and inhumane treatment, including verbalabuse and subjection to racial slurs.For these new immigrants, coming to America does not promise a better life, but rather ahell on earth. Organizations such as Sweatshop Watch help workers to recoup unpaidwages and damages through lawsuits, fighting for unfairly denied compensation and for  punitive damages against gross offenders.There is a glaring need for an immigrant workers center that could play an important rolein empowering the immigrant workers' community to fight for its labor rights and political rights -- a role a government-funded service agency would not be able to fulfill.However, it is to be hoped that policy makers and street-level bureaucrats can understandthe dynamic needs of the immigrant workers community and set future projectsaccordingly. According to the report “Mapping the Immigrant Structure”
11
by the AppliedResearch Center, these recommendations could help achieve this objective:

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