PCHR joined a host of social and civic agencies at the invitation of the Mexican Consulate to offer migrant workers and residents a broader understanding of rights and services available to them.
It came as part of a full-day presentation to close out Labor Rights Week 2014. The annual event targets the burgeoning Mexican population in the region, particularly in South Philadelphia, where the demographics are changing every year.
“The community is growing, but it’s scattered, and it’s hard to get to people unless it’s a festival. And a festival means a party, and it’s hard to get information to people if they’re focusing on having a good time,” said Nancy Rivera, a PCHR compliance supervisor.
“Some people are shy or afraid to seek information,” she said. “This event is a way that allows people who may normally come to the consulate for visa or other immigration issues to also get a sense of what other agencies and services may be available to them.”
Rivera teamed up with Veronica Szymanski, veteran PCHR community relations representative, to share details about the city’s civil rights and fair housing laws, as well as steps to take if someone thinks their rights may have been violated.
Neighborhood disputes often arise when immigrants and migrant workers move into a community, and many are too fearful to file complaints, Szymanski said.
“They stay quiet, even when they’re harassed,” she said. “When they talk to us, they’re still quiet at first, but then they warm up when we start speaking. After we give our presentation, then you’ll see one or two, and then more, come to the table with questions.”
Overall, some 200 people passed through the doors and participated.
“Being able to talk with them, in simple terms, in Spanish, letting them know they can call us and how to reach us, it meant a lot,” Rivera added.