New Report Documents Abuses Faced by Au Pairs in the U.S.

Aug. 20, 2018 – American University Washington College of Law’s International Human Rights Law Clinic has partnered with Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM), the International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG), the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), and Matahari Women Workers’ Center on a new report documenting labor abuses faced by au pairs in the United States. The report, titled “Shortchanged: The Big Business Behind the Low Wage J-1 Au Pair Program,” reveals the widespread abuse and lack of justice that tens of thousands of au pairs who provide childcare face in the United States, while exposing the flaws of the J-1 guestworker program that recruits them.

The report identifies 18 recommendations that would protect au pairs from labor abuses and ensure they have access to justice. Among them are banning recruitment fees, requiring host families to pay the prevailing wage for childcare workers, and transferring oversight of the program from the State Department to the Department of Labor.

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The report analyzes existing data on the au pair program, and includes findings from in-depth interviews with current and former au pairs.

“‘Shortchanged’ brings into plain sight what happens to temporary foreign workers behind closed doors,” said Anita Sinha, assistant professor of law and director of AUWCL’s International Human Rights Law Clinic. “It highlights the need for a new labor migration model –  one that gives workers control over their migration process, provides for meaningful government oversight, and rigorously vets employers.”

Ten former and current AUWCL students worked on the report as student attorneys in the clinical program: Kayleigh Anselm, Stephanie Costa, Vidya Dindiyal, Chelsea Lalancette, Henrika Missick de Lopez, Nicole J. Martinez, Lou Metsu, Jessica McKinney, Mohammad Mustafa, and Neethi Vasudevan.

The International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) offers student attorneys the opportunity to represent non-U.S. citizens and organizations working to defend the human rights of non-U.S. citizens in a broad range of settings, including regional and international bodies, U.S. federal and state courts, and immigration court.