01/05/2005

New Project Protects Rights of Immigrant Workers

A new Center project is working to ensure that the rights of immigrant workers are protected in the Southeast, a region where farmworker conditions are the worst in the nation and worker exploitation is widespread.

"Our new Immigrant Justice Project (IJP) is a natural for the Center," said legal director Rhonda Brownstein. "Immigrant workers are the victims of a wide range of abusive practices and have few legal resources at their disposal."

Directing the project is Mary Bauer, former legal director of the Virginia Justice Center for Farm and Immigrant Workers. In addition to Bauer, the IJP staff includes two attorneys, two outreach paralegals and an administrative assistant.

Most immigrant workers have no access to legal representation, in part because federally funded legal services programs are prohibited from representing undocumented immigrants.

The IJP will target key industries and locales in its advocacy efforts, which will include public education as well as litigation. The IJP will serve immigrant workers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.