06/14/2018

Media Contact: Marzena Zukowska, NDWA: (872) 216-3684, marzena@domesticworkers.org

Report comes on the heels Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies, including separating families at the border

Report will be released on June 19, 2018. Embargoed copies available

Washington, DC -- A new report has found that domestic workers living in the Texas-Mexico border region, most of whom are immigrant women, are facing high rates of wage theft, abuse, and insecure immigration status, conditions that have been exacerbated under the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.

The report, Living in the Shadows: Latina Domestic Workers in the Texas-Mexico Border Region, is the first in-depth quantitative study of its kind, scheduled to be released by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Texas-based groups Fuerza del Valle, Labor Justice Committee, and A.Y.U.D.A. Inc., later this month. The study employed trained domestic worker leaders, who conducted hundreds of interviews with house cleaners, nannies, and home care workers across El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

“For decades, domestic workers have been working in the shadows of our economy with limited rights and protections. At the Texas border region, this vulnerability has been even more severe,” said Linda Burnham, Senior Adviser at National Domestic Workers Alliance, and author of the first national survey of domestic workers in the United States. “This unique report puts numbers to the stories we keep hearing. It should serve as a warning of the human cost when the rights of immigrants and workers are completely eroded.”

Texas is home to more than 200,000 domestic workers, who include nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers. As a right to work state, Texas also has few workplace protections, and more people working below minimum wage than any other state in the country.

"I hardly ever saw the sun, except for when I was taking out the trash or picking up the newspaper.,” said Irma, an immigrant from a small town in Veracruz, Mexico, who was interviewed for the report. As a live-in nanny and housecleaner for a family in the border region of Texas, Irma worked around the clock and was paid only $160 per week.

In addition to high rates of wage theft, immigrant domestic workers at the Texas border region are additionally constrained by interior checkpoints and other immigration enforcement mechanisms under laws like SB4 that prevent workers from exercising their rights. Irma further shared, “when people know about your immigration status, that’s when they start taking advantage of you. They don’t value you the same way they would someone with papers."

Report findings include:

  • WAGE THEFT: Nearly a quarter of domestic workers report that they were paid less than agreed to for their work, or not paid at all. For live-in workers the conditions were worse: 45% report having been paid less than agreed to or not at all.
  • FOOD INSECURITY: More than a third of domestic workers report that someone in their household went hungry at some time in the previous 12 months.
  • PAID LEAVE: Only 2% of domestic workers report receiving paid leave of any kind.
  • HOUSING: 57% of housecleaners were unable to pay their rent at some time in the previous year, compared to 33% of elder care workers.
  • IMMIGRATION: 35% of domestic workers who don’t have work authorization or secure immigration status were paid less than agreed to or not at all, compared with 15% of U.S. citizens.

The report also includes a comprehensive set of recommendations for policy change at the federal, state and municipal levels, as well as guidelines for employers to ensure that private homes are fair workplaces.

About the organizations:

National Domestic Workers Alliance
The National Domestic Workers Alliance is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers. NDWA is powered by over 60 affiliate organizations and local chapters and by a growing membership base of nannies, housecleaners and care workers in over 20 states. Learn more at www.domesticworkers.org.

Adult and Youth United Development Association Inc. (A.Y.U.D.A. Inc.)
San Elizario, Texas
A.Y.U.D.A. Inc. is a non-profit bilingual organization founded in 1992 with the aim of improving access to quality health services, ensuring the construction of adequate housing, achieving better education and promoting community leadership. Part of A.Y.U.D.A.’s mission is to organize, educate and support domestic workers to know their rights and demand that these rights be respected. A.Y.U.D.A. works in communities in El Paso and the Lower Valley, with a special emphasis on the colonias outside of the city. Learn more at www.ayudaorg1.wixsite.com/ayuda/about_us.

Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center
Alamo, Texas
Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center (FVWC) was created to support the leadership of unprotected workers, to stop the rampant problem of wage theft, and to build a movement for worker rights in the borderlands and beyond. Together with Comité de Justicia Laboral, FVWC is one of the founding sites of Border Workers United. Learn more at www.fuerzadelvalle.org.

Comité de Justicia Laboral
El Paso, Texas
Comité de Justicia Laboral (CJL) is a community-based organization that develops leadership of workers to construct a movement of worker families in the Texas Borderlands. CJL is dedicated to helping victims of labor rights violations and labor trafficking by 1) educating them on their rights, 2) accompanying them through the process of fighting against labor rights abuses and 3) creating strategies to resolve individual and community labor rights problems. Together with Fuerza del Valle Workers Center, CJL is one of the founding sites of Border Workers United. Learn more at www.laborjusticecommittee.org.

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