The IWP counts with several programs that directly help and support the immigrant in their arduous task of adaptation and social insertion in this country, their new home, and it tries to give them knowledge of the rights that all person have at work, concerning their health and, their education, as citizen, etc. Other programs are oriented to address the rights that have been denied to these workers as immigrant people.

 
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WORKPLACE RIGHTS:

All workers deserve justice and equitable conditions. “ . . . if through necessity or fear of a worse evil, the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will give him no better, he is a victim of force and injustice.” (Pope Leo XIII, The Condition of Labor Rerum Novarum, 1891:par. 6)

Many workplaces have strived to create just, non-discriminatory environments for immigrant workers. IWP has been able to establish excellent relationships with many employers working with their staff to interpret for the new workers and holding mediation sessions when problems occur.
We assisted many new companies in worker recruitment. One recurring problem is workplace discrimination. Many times this occurs through job discrimination, that is types of jobs that only immigrant workers are assigned. Currently we are working on a major violation in South Western Ohio by gathering affidavits and other documentation. Another key role of the IWP has been assisting workers with Bureau of Worker Compensation claims.

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HUMANS RIGHTS & / IMMIGRATION RIGHTS

IWP has developed a socio-drama “Know Your Rights” to help new immigrants with immigration raids, police stops (mostly Driving While Hispanic), and immigration processing. The socio-drama draws on the experiences of each group, drawing the community into the process, thus enhancing community awareness and building a community history of struggle.
We have continued to work in the key areas of educational rights. Unfortunately the number of schools that our in violation of the Plyler v. Doe, Supreme Court decision is on the rise, mostly due to a misreading of child protection laws.
The other area that IWP has worked for regarding the implementation of essential civil rights is the continuing struggle to provide access to marriage licenses for individuals without social security numbers. To provide basic legal rights to detainees in jails. These facilities have currently become the central holding place for long-term Immigration & Customs Enforcement detainees. Many immigrants in these jails have no idea of the basic processes, or rights in immigration courts. In many other states these collaborative projects have been supported by both immigration courts and local detention facilities for aiding in timely processing, as well as guaranteeing rights of detainees.

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LEADERSHIP TRAINING:

The IWP has worked from the beginning to be guided by immigrants we work with. This started with the writing of the Report on Immigrant Labor in Ohio, where we sought organic leaders who the community turned to in times of crisis, e.g. following an industrial accident or fatality of a member of the community. It has continued with the building of local leadership committees and the Statewide Leadership Council. Currently over 70% of the board of IWP is immigrant workers from across the state, of course transportation and time limit participation.

To this end, many of the programs of IWP play a role in leadership training from recruitment for events to social reality ESL lessons.
Each of our trips to consulates, as well as mobile consulate visits from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico has engaged local leaders in organizing. All of this provide an opportunity to build skills–homevisits, organizing lists, mobilization efforts–that are used in various campaigns.

Instituto Cultural de Liderazgo del Medioeste (ICLM), we have completed our two year training with Jesuits from Detroit and Mexico which has included the training of over 127 individuals with 23 leaders taking all the courses. The effects of this intense pastoral training can be seen in two very concrete events: the two day retreat held in July at Camp Luz which was planned and run by immigrant leadership and at the MACC training last November.

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LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY RIGHTS & HEALTH CARE:

Lack of interpretation in hospitals, social agencies and the courts is a reoccurring problem throughout Ohio. Many organizations have taken up this struggle, including NAPJIT, UHCAN, Racial Fairness Project, Racial Fairness Project and International Institute, all of which IWP has worked in collaboration on this issue. There has been a slow process of establishing systematic change in a collaborative process with service providers.
We are working with various agencies in Wayne County an Interpretation Training was held for 93 participants from 11 counties. This training highlighted the ethics and methodology needed by interpreters.
We have worked with Community Health Partners of Lorain County to provide a mobile health unit for nursery workers in Lorain, Huron and Erie counties. The mobile testing done in July revealed 18 patients with serious ailments needing follow-up treatment, 21 dental needs and 15 eye care problems of those who attended.
One of the key needs that IWP assists with is care for pregnant mothers. During the last year we have provided over 1500 hours of transportation and interpretation for immigrant mothers and children. This has included networking with health care providers in Texas, Georgia, and Florida to provide for a continuity of service. As part of this an other medical assistance the IWP processed over $400,000 of Alien Emergency Medical Assistance (AMEA) claims. Many of the hospitals that we have worked with had not processed AEMA claims previously and IWP acted as a liaison between the hospital and regional Ohio Jobs and Family Services Offices.

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ADVOCACY & NETWORKING:

In the Fall the Immigrant worker project brought 150 workers to the Immigrant Freedom Ride held in Cleveland. Both the vice-Chair Lidia Moreno and board member Melvin Rios were featured speakers. Working with UFCW and St. Joseph’s this event proved that rural immigrant workers and migrants are at the forefront in the struggle for immigration reform and equity. Unfortunately, the presidential election has precluded any meaningful changes–still Agricultural Jobs and Opportunity Act came very close to passing.

In the Spring, at the request of the Catholic Conference of Ohio we brought speakers to the Rural Advocacy Day with state representatives and senators. Hopefully, this meeting will aid future legislative reform, especially on the issue of Driver’s Licences. Also, last Spring our computer staff participated in the OCCCN lobbying day on digital divide, especially the need to expand internet facilities and access to rural regions of the state, as well as disadvantaged populations.

IWP has played a key role in the statewide OLD committee (Ohioans for Licensed Drivers) both in researching international driving conventions, suggesting law for reform of the current law and discovering a loophole that for half the year prescribed no penalty for driving without a license.
With the Diocese of Youngstown, Sisters of Charity Hispanic/Latino Interest Group and others the IWP played a key role in a symposium held at Walsh University. We were part of the planning committee, provided art from our community art projects and several of the speakers were members of the IWP staff and board. In addition, our previous work with Health and Human Services Regional Department of Civil Rights assisted with the participation of Lisa Simone. Key contacts for IWP and other agencies in Ohio for the future.

Finally, we were part of two key events in Washington DC. Building on testimony provided in previous years at Catholic Charities USA, this year at the annual Social Action Conference IWP was featured as a national model project of Catholic Campaign for Human Development. During this conference we were able to advocate for immigration reform with several federal Senators and Congressfolk. The key element of the project, that excited those who attended the session, was the ability of the IWP to create an organic framework where education (ESL/computers) and service (hospital/interpretation) permutated into action, such as unionization, racial profiling or legislative reform.

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CULTURAL & PASTORAL CELEBRATIONS:

In regards to Pastoral Care, it should be noted that since the formation the IWP has initiated the celebration of Spanish Mass in seven communities, all of which continue to today. The IWP has continued with the formation and training of choirs in the Tri-Diocesan region, which has included ongoing guitar classes and the participation in La Asociación Nacional de Músicos Pastorales training in Chicago.

One of the key cultural projects during the past years was the community arts projects. This project allowed us to draw on communities historical vision to create images of belonging, community and dignity. One of the key cultural projects during the past years was the community arts projects.

No year would be complete without two now annual celebrations. First the multiple county fútbol tournament held in Vermillion every July 4th, this event combines a round robin play with various regional teams requiring Yugoslavian referees (no English, no Spanish), and endless food for 300 fútbolistas. The other is the end of the summer ESL outing from the ABLE Civics Grant sites–Tuscarawas, Wayne, Ashland and Holmes counties. This year 150 participants floated down the Cuyahoga River and than celebrated with a massive picnic/swim at Edgewater park. Both these events and many other smaller celebrations (from sledding to pizza) with individual ESL sites draw people out of an encapsulated existence. Most rural immigrants never see the lake, never meet people outside their region, never rest. These cultural celebrations have an immense impact on community building and imagining of a new future.

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EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS: ENGLISH AS SECOND LANGUAGE & COMPUTERS

The IWP educational programs, as well as the underlying philosophy of IWP, is based on the work of Paulo Freire. He taught that a learning environment must reflect the social environment of students. For the IWP this translates into classes on Used Cars, Crossing the Border, and Some Things to Say (Not Say) to the Police. The ESL program empowers students to order pizza and withstand immigration raids.

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The Computer Class Program, however, consists of Classes that are totally free and taught in Spanish. The primary target is to bring people closer to the digital world in which we live today, beginning by tearing down those fears associated with the use of this powerful tool (the Computer), providing the incentive for students to take advantage of all its applications, like the Internet to name one, and opening the door to more job opportunities. For more details on class description, Location, schedules, Click Here

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MICRO- ENTERPRISE TRAINIG

The Immigrant Worker Project has tried to pay particular attention to workers who have left their Country and families in search of new opportunities in the United States. Of the multiple problems they face in their new life, how to administer their money and the use of credit in the United States are among the most important ones. IWP wants to address these needs through the MICRO- ENTERPRISE Project. This Project helps with the formative program on money administration, the use of credit, the purchase of houses and the creation of small companies in the United States and in the countries of origin. The people in charge of the project go wherever immigrants interested in these concepts are to be found and the schedules are planned according to the needs of those who request the service.
Money is one of the main reasons why many immigrants are in the United States, but if they fail to administer themselves well it can easily become a nightmare for those who came here with a dream. Immigrant Worker Project "IWP" invites them to use this new resource...

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FUTURE PROGRAMS

The continued building of a Detention Project will require a truly collaborative effort. Even now this project draws on Pastoral, Legal and Community Organizing staff from four different projects. Just finding someone lost in the maze of immigration detention is difficult enough but finding a way to provide them with sound legal advice and pastoral care is at times nearly impossible. Two staff members Naomi Hokky of Centro San Jose Immigration Services and Teresa Brooks of the IWP will be attending a national detention training in Washington DC. This project also has the ability to draw on the recent CRS Global Solidarity trip to Guatemala. One problem deported detainees face is arriving in their home country hundreds of miles from home without money, nor clothes. We have attempted to assist families in sending clothes and money into holding facilities with limited success. Hopefully CRS can provide a reception point of funds and other materials needs sent by the family for deportees.

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