Monday, October 12, 2015
Immigration Article of the Day: The Chinese Immigrant Worker in New York: The Role of Intermediate Institutions by Aaron Halegua
The Chinese Immigrant Worker in New York: The Role of Intermediate Institutions by Aaron Halegua, New York University School of Law; Harvard Law School 2015 Samuel Estreicher and Joy Radice, eds., Beyond Elite Law: Access to Civil Justice in America (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming).
Abstract: This chapter explores the challenges that keep Chinese immigrant workers from retaining legal counsel and how various organizations work to overcome those obstacles. The first part of this chapter briefly introduces New York City’s population of Chinese immigrant workers. In the next section, I describe some of the roadblocks that exist in a worker’s long path from being in an exploitative workplace to seeking out a lawyer to address these legal violations and then filing a lawsuit. While finding a willing lawyer is sometimes a challenge, the greatest obstacles are often those that keep workers from ever seeking legal help in the first place, such as limited knowledge about their legal rights and a fear of retaliation. In the third section, I discuss how various “intermediate institutions” such as worker centers and social service organizations help to overcome some of these challenges. The chapter concludes with my reflections on the strengths and limitations of such institutions.