Initiatives & Accomplishments

Initiatives & Accomplishments  Since May 1st 2010

 Initiatives & Accomplishments  Since May 1st 2010
WHO WE SERVE
We primarily support the Brazilian and Latino/a immigrant communities. Since May of 2010 we served over 9,000 members of our community who were seeking information about their labor, immigration, tenant, consumer, civil, or human rights.

Community leaders estimate that there are 250,000 Brazilian immigrants in Massachusetts out of a total of 1.3 million Brazilians in diaspora.  Allston-Brighton is the historic corridor of the Brazilian community. There are
also significant concentrations of Brazilians living in Somerville, Cambridge, Medford, Everett, Woburn, Framingham, Acton, and Marlborough.

We see our advocacy on particular workers’ cases, and our service to them in helping them to resolve complaints, not as an end in itself, but also as an avenue to discovering the concerns of our constituency, monitoring current working conditions, and as a tool for organizing and policy work.      

WHAT WE DO
Advocate for workers rights; Research and mediate violations of workers’ labor rights; Refer cases to the US Department of Labor and the Massachusetts Attorney General for investigation; We provide monthly workers’ rights training, including legal immigration clinics, free English classes, and Portuguese classes at a reasonable fee.   We are a point of connection for those who are scheduled for deportation, by providing a visit with an attorney.


INITIATIVES & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Since May 1st 2010, the Brazilian Immigrant Center has been under a new leadership. However, BIC continues with its long-standing service, organizing, and policy work in the areas of workers’ rights and immigrant rights, and recently has developed several new initiatives that further our mission.

Workers Rights:  Our workers' rights project is BIC’s core program and is the foundation for all the initiatives, activities, educational sessions, and training that take place at BIC. The services that we offer are all linked to bringing workers to the Center, where we can support them not only in solving their workplace problems, but also in assisting them in gaining knowledge about their rights and how to defend them and be proactive in teaching and advocate for others whom may be living in under oppressive conditions.

Community  Educational Outreach for Social Justice:  In efforts to widen BIC educational worker’s and  immigrant rights workshops,  we mounted a series of  ongoing workshops and informational talks in Boston community settings, mainly churches, community health fairs, and social events as a tool for popular education and recruitment of domestic workers to the movement. Since last May, we have given over 32 workshops, where over 820 people attended, with many coming forth to play a role in supporting some of our ongoing initiatives.

Immigrant Rights Organizing: BIC has been deeply engaged in immigrant rights organizing, especially proudly working as an ally to the broad campaign, ably led by Centro Presente, against the Secure Communities Program in Boston and other cities in Massachusetts. BIC was present at all the Governor’s public forums throughout the state; lobbied at both the State House and at Boston City Hall; and participated in many other successful actions to oppose anti-immigrant measures introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature.

ESOL for Social Justice: BIC ESOL for Social Justice: The curriculum reflects our central mission as a workers’ center, and our ESOL program has always been an extension of our workers rights program. ESOL is an important tool in helping workers to learn their rights and in supporting them in gaining voice to speak for themselves, to engage with their communities on a civic level, and to organize and solve both workplace and community problems they encounter as immigrants. Classes meet three times a week including one hour of conversation.

Domestic Worker Organizing: In summer 2010, BIC began organizing domestic workers, in our own Brazilian community & more broadly to campaign for a new Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which will bring domestic workers under protection of state labor laws,  with dignity and respect.  Today they are mostly immigrant women of color, including many in our own Brazilian community, but extending across widely ranging ethnic groups in the state. BIC established with other sister CBOs the Massachusetts Coalition of Domestic Workers (McDW), and it is supported by the new Law & Policy Clinic and Mediation Project housed at the Center.

Worker’s Rights Project and a New Cycle of OSHA Safety Training: Our workers' rights project is BIC’s core program and is the foundation for all the initiatives, activities, educational sessions, and training that take place at BIC. The services that we offer are all linked to bringing workers to the Center, where we can support them not only in solving their workplace problems, but also in assisting them in gaining knowledge about their rights and how to defend them.
In October 2011, BIC received federal support from the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) to train over 400 Brazilian and Latino construction workers in safety rules to prevent falls, through courses offered both in Portuguese and in Spanish at BIC and in other community locations throughout the region.  

Establishment of Legal Clinic:  On September 19, 2011 the Domestic Worker Law and Policy Clinic officially opened at BIC. The clinic serves all ethnic populations, and works with partner organizations within the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers. The clinic has been supporting workers so that they can negotiate their own contracts and have productive conversations with their employers. Also the Immigration clinic concentrates on offering free or low-cost legal representation to community members in immigration and detention matters.  

Initiated a Worker-Employer Mediation Panel: Two BIC staff members have received mediation training and certification from the Community Dispute Settlement Center in Cambridge, and we are formalizing a mediation program that will allow domestic workers and their employers to resolve employment disputes. This is an integral part of worker leadership development within the Massachusetts campaign to achieve a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.

The Immigration Justice Project:  BIC legal staff advocate for immigration reform and provide legal services to low-income immigrants. The project has recently collaborated with several other local organizations including Justice at Work, MassCOSH, Centro Presente, Brazilian Women’s Group and the Student Immigrant Movement to advance the shared objectives of protecting individual rights and promoting legislative change. The Immigration Justice Project:  
•Represents undocumented workers whose employers use threats of deportation to undermine organizing efforts.
•Assists immigration detainees who cannot access representation due to financial and physical limitations.
•Investigates allegations of police misconduct and holds police departments accountable for their interactions with immigrant communities.  
•Protects immigrants from predatory lawyers and notários by providing reliable information in person and through local periodicals.  
•Builds alliances between immigrant and non-immigrant communities through public campaigns.  

Outreach to Clergy and Religious Congregations regarding Immigrant Rights: BIC has been engaged in an ecumenical outreach program to faith leaders and religious congregations throughout Massachusetts. Our goal is to engage American faith organizations and concerned US citizens in supporting immigrant rights struggles. We have visited a total of 12 community settings in cities throughout eastern Massachusetts and have spoken to over 230 people.

updated 10 months ago