Asian immigrants are suffering from wage theft - Generocity Philly

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Oct. 31, 2016 11:04 am

Asian immigrants are suffering from wage theft

Here's how Community Legal Services is stepping up to help.

Philadelphia's Chinatown.

(Photo by Flickr user Alexis Lewis, used under a Creative Commons license)

Editor's note: The immigrant makeup of Chinatown has been clarified from an earlier version of this story. Edit 10/31 @ 3:50 p.m.
Community Legal Services (CLS) is a 20-minute walk from Chinatown, where the majority of Asian immigrants are Chinese, and a short subway ride from South Philly, where a significant proportion of immigrants are Vietnamese.

These groups also have the highest rates of poverty and limited English proficiency. Yet, very few of them are walking through the organization’s doors. Chi-Ser Tran, a new fellow with CLS, is aiming to change that.

“There has been very little attention paid to this group. Not many legal services organizations have had the resources to expand services [to them],” Tran said.

Tran said CLS has noticed a trend in Asian immigrants being underpaid. Employers are either not paying overtime or not paying the minimum wage.

Their immigrant status, said Tran, makes them hesitant to seek help.

“If someone is undocumented, they might feel very reluctant to come forth because their status makes them very vulnerable,” she said.

Tran is hosting free legal clinics for Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants in Philadelphia. Right now, they’ve been happening irregularly, but she’s hoping to make them a consistent form of outreach for an often overlooked community.

The next clinic is Tuesday, Nov. 1, at Chinese Christian Church, 225 N. 10th St. Anyone interested in knowing about future clinics can email Tran at ctran@clsphila.org or call the Philadelphia Asian American Workers Rights Project hotline at 215-981-3732.

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