FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 28, 2013
CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Policy & Public Affairs Officer, 202.285.3348, [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A citywide campaign was launched today by the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) in an effort to highlight the contributions of immigrants to the District and reduce incidents of discrimination. The Immigrants Contribute campaign features eight participants who emigrated from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and shares their struggles and contributions to the District. It acknowledges the challenges many immigrants face when leaving their country, but states that discrimination should never be one of those challenges.
“The District of Columbia is one of the best places in America for immigrants to live, both because of its strong non-discrimination law and its welcoming atmosphere,” said OHR Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Yet our outreach to immigrant communities helped us recognize the misunderstandings that still exist, and the Immigrants Contribute campaign aims to counter those misunderstandings by sharing the stories of immigrants who live and work in the District.”
The campaign advertisements (available at ohr.dc.gov/wecontribute) were developed after extensive conversations with community members and immigrant advocates, and several focus groups. Many immigrants and advocates expressed concern about incidents of intolerance or discrimination that are rooted in misleading stereotypes, and are often exacerbated because of an accent or language barrier. The campaign aims to challenge those stereotypes and emphasize the important roles of immigrants, while providing a strong message that discrimination based on national origin or an individual’s accent is illegal in the District and can be reported to OHR.
“While the Immigrants Contribute campaign aims to increase understanding among non-immigrants in the District, we also hope it can increase understanding among the diverse immigrant communities themselves,” said Mónica Palacio, Director of OHR’s Language Access Program. “The challenges immigrants face are numerous and varied, yet the personal success stories in this campaign are powerful, and can act as one piece of a larger effort to bridge gaps among communities.”
To further the message of the campaign, OHR and the Language Access Program will partner with Split This Rock – an organization of poets and artists who engage audiences on social justice issues – and other advocacy organizations to hold immigrant rights events and workshops through the end of December. The Immigrants Contribute campaign – including the advertisements and biographies of those participating in the campaign – are available at ohr.dc.gov/wecontribute. Advertisements and behind-the-scenes video and photos are also available on the OHR Facebook page at facebook.com/dcohr. Advertisements are also available on the website in Amharic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.
To learn more about the Language Access Program and services offered, visit ohr.dc.gov/languageaccess.
About the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights
The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) was established to eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. The agency enforces local and federal human rights laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, by providing a legal process to those who believe they have been discriminated against. OHR also proactively enforces human rights in the District through Director’s Inquiries, which allow it to identify and investigate practices and policies that may be discriminatory.