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Immigrant Rights Commission
Minutes of Meeting on September 12 2005
City Hall, Hearing room 416
I. Roll Call:
Members Present The meeting was called to order on 5:00 p.m., Commissioners Eke, Enssani, Escobedo, Haile, Jones, McCoy, Ng, Nguyen, Specktor & Tran were present. Commissioner Eke arrived at 5:25p.m.
Members Absent Commissioner Alexander, Lau, Lee, Levy, Melara were absent & excused.
Others Present Dang Pham, Executive Director
II. Approval of minutes for July 11th: Commissioner Haile moved to approve the minutes which was second by Commissioner Jones. The Commission unanimously adopted the minutes.
III. Welcome New Commissioners: Commissioner McCoy is from Bosnia & she has been here for 11 years. She’s worked 10 years with asylum & refugees at the Public Health Care Center. Commissioner Eke is from Nigeria & graduated from Golden Gate University.
Employer paid the worker, but worker said he was not paid for a portion of his work: Commissioner Kaff tells the commission about the employer who hired a worker for a construction job. According to the employer, this worker worked for 3 weeks & was paid in cash after every workday. After the worker was discharged he filed a claim against the employer saying that he worked 22 hours & did not get paid. The employer alleges he really worked 90 hours & that he got paid for all the hours worked. The employer claims to have s a receipt of payment to the employee. The worker filed a claim against the employer & the claim was sent to the wrong address, so the employer never received the letter and was unable to tell his side of the story. The employer is trying to get a hearing scheduled before the Labor Commission, so he can try to argue the case. Commission Escobedo gave the employer some referrals and strongly urged him to contact the SF Bar Association, which has a volunteer legal program that gives people free advice.
- Commissioner Enssani drafted a resolution supporting the House Resolution 367 and City of San Francisco resolution condemning bigotry, violence and discrimination against Iranian-Americans. Banafsheh Akhlaghi is the President of the National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement, which she began after 9/11. She testified to the following before the Commission: Her organization is dedicated to civil rights & human rights with the Middle Eastern community. They have been seeing discrimination against Iranians in the community. The calls arise out of FBI surveillances; FBI interviews at their homes or work place, there are at a heightened degree of immigration rights violation cases. Individuals who have been in the US for 20 plus years, who are US citizens and have been working for various companies, who are connected to the Dept. of Defense & had been granted their security clearances to work for these organizations or companies are now being denied immigration status. This denial is based on their alleged disloyalty to the US. When they question loyalty, they want to know if they have families or connections to their home country.
Mehrdad Moayedzadeh is President of Bay Area Iranian-American Democrats and he testified to the following before the Commission: He spoke to a representative in Washington D.C. about the discrimination issue. Last year they received lots of discrimination reports & they still continue to receive a large volume of these reports.
Commissioner Enssani stated that on 9/11 she lost a relative, an Iranian American, who was on the first plane to leave Boston from LA.
Commissioner Enssani moved to pass the draft resolution, which was seconded by Commissioner Jones. Commissioner Escobedo moved to amended the resolution with the following language: on the Further Resolved: that the Immigrant Rights Commission urges the San Francisco Police Commission to take steps to ensure that the San Francisco Police Department protects all San Franciscans from discrimination, especially those of South Asian (Middle Eastern) and Iranian descent most at risk due to the prejudicial misperceptions of culpability prevalent in the wake of the September 11th attack. Further resolved that the Immigrant Rights Commission recommends to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors that they take all steps necessary to ensure that Supervisor Mikarimi’s resolution supporting the House Resolution 367 condemning bigotry and discrimination against Iranian-Americans be fully implemented, and be it, Further resolved that the Immigrant Rights Commission recommends to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors that they take all steps necessary to fully support the passage of House Resolution 367. Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The Commission unanimously adopted the amended resolution.
- Equal Access to Service Ordinance: Commissioner Escobedo provided the commissioners with background information concerning EAS: The Commission sent a letter to MUNI concerning non-compliance. The response was not adequate so the Commission issued non-compliance findings against MUNI to the Mayor & BOS. MUNI sent a letter back to the Commission requesting to meet. Commissioner Escobedo requested Mr. Pham to call MUNI to get some suggested dates & bring it to the next Program & Access Committee.
EAS Hearing: Commissioner Haile, Mr. Pham & a few other commissioners met with Ed Lee, City Administrator to discuss planning for an Equal Access hearing. Mr. Lee asked the Commission to draft a full report concerning which Departments are in compliance with EAS and & which ones are not in compliance. The commissioners met with Supervisor Ma who supports the idea of holding a hearing on the Equal Access Ordinance. The Supervisors would sponsor the hearing. Commissioner Escobedo will draft a report to be reviewed by the Program and Access Committee and to be brought before the Commission at the next full IRC meeting.
Program & Access Committee to approve the 1st Draft of the outline of the compliance plans: Commissioner Escobedo asked the Commission to read the Equal Access to Services Ordinance. The 2 languages that are formally recognized under EAS are Spanish & Chinese. The Planning Department needs to do an assessment of impacted languages so that 2 additional languages may be added, which are Tagalog & Russian. Commissioner Escobedo also reviewed several other provisions of EAS that she felt were important for the Commission to review. To date only Tier 1 Departments have provided the Commission with Compliance Plans. Commissioner Escobedo read the definition of Tier 2 Departments and asked Mr. Pham to go through all the City Departments & do an analysis and comprise a list of those Departments that fall within the definition of Tier 2 Department. He is to bring this list to the Program and Access Committee meeting and a draft letter, requesting compliance plans from Tier 2 Departments.
- Commissioner Escobedo asked to put this over to the next month’s agenda, so the Commissioners can further time to review it.
- Status of replacement for Commission Secretary position: According to Mr. Pham, he met with Ed Lee; City Administrator, who that Winny couldn’t leave the Commission until there is a replacement for her position. Commissioner Escobedo feels that it is unfair to Winny, because she cannot work full time at her current position. Mr. Pham gave the Commission a copy of the Commission secretary description, which had not been updated/ . He needs to talk with the Human Resources Department to get the job description posted on the website as soon as possible. Mr. Pham needs to draft another job description by the next Program & Access Committee meeting, because the duties of the job description he provided have changed. Commissioner Escobedo suggested that the commission get a letter out to Mr. Lee expressing its concerns. .
- Directors Report: Day Labor Program: The Mayor’s Office of Budget has approved the PSC form for renewal of the Day Laborer contract. At this point, we are waiting for the approval from the Civil Services Commission. The tentative date of the hearing on this matter is October 3rd. The amount of the contract is for $148,000.00 for the next 12 months for the Day Labor Program. Last week Mr. Pham received a copy of a letter from Anamaria Lopez of La Raza Centro Legal addressed directed to Ed Lee, regarding the delay of the renewal process. A copy of this letter was sent to all the Commissioners.
Mr. Pham met with Ed Lee to discuss the letter. Ed Lee indicated to Mr. Pham that he would like to prepare all of the documents in advance so we can quickly process payment as soon as the Civil Service Commission approves the contract during their meeting scheduled on October 3rd. In addition, he needs to double check with the Budget Office to ensure that the money has been allocated for the project. Commissioner Escobedo directed Mr.Pham to invite Ms. Anamaria Lopez a to attend the next Commission meeting if this issue is not resolved.
- Committee Report: Finance & Operations Committee can work on issues such as the lack of a IRC budget & work on the employee clerical description. The Committee needs to get other Commissioners to join. For the next meeting, all committee agendas are to be sent to all commissioners.
- Committee Membership; Commission Jones asked for a moment of silence for the Katrina victims & recommended a resolution for the Katrina victims for the next meeting. The issue of the City’s response to such a disaster was also raised and to what degree the City’s emergency services would be prepared to deal with language access issues also needs to be discussed. Commissioner Specktored request to put Self Help Center, SF Superior Court & what services they provide & basic equal access issues on next month’s agenda; Commissioner Escobedo requested that the Equal Access Ordinance be put on the agenda.
Adjournment: The Commission meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.