Experiences of Immigrant Workers: Challenges, Opportunities and the Future of our Economy

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

Click here to register to attend this event.

About this Event:
Sixteen percent of the U.S. workforce (approximately 25 million U.S. workers) is foreign-born. These workers contribute skills, knowledge and labor to the U.S. economy across many industries, including agriculture, hospitality, construction, information technology, health care and others. Foreign-born workers also start businesses at a much higher rate than native-born workers. However, many immigrant workers face hurdles such as excessively low wages, widespread wage theft, and poor and dangerous working conditions that in some instances do not meet labor and safety protections. For foreign-born workers that wish to improve their education and upgrade their skills, other barriers, such as limited English skills and restricted access to financial aid, stand in their way. When immigrant workers lack access to quality education and employment opportunities, the nation's economic growth and competitiveness suffers. At the third event in the Aspen Institute's Working in America discussion series, four experts, including a scholar from the Brookings Institution, a leader from the AFL-CIO, an immigrant rights advocate from CASA de Maryland, and the community college president from Prince George's Community College, will discuss the implications of immigration and immigration reform for the U.S. economy and the impact on job quality and employment opportunity for workers.


Ana Avendaño
Assistant to the President and Director of Immigration and Community Action, AFL-CIO

Charlene Dukes
President, Prince George's Community College

Audrey Singer
Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution

Gustavo Torres,
Executive Director, CASA de Maryland

Register to attend this event.

A special thanks to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation for their support of this discussion series.

For further information contact: Matt Helmer, Economic Opportunities Program
Tel: 202-341-4992; e-mail: matt.helmer@aspeninst.org



Ana Avendaño, Assistant to the President, Director of Immigration and Community Action, AFL-CIO
Ana Avendaño serves as Assistant to the President and Director of Immigration and Community Action at the AFL-CIO. In that capacity, she oversees efforts to broaden the labor movement through innovative labor-community partnerships and by connecting to Latino and immigrant communities. She also advises national and local union leaders on domestic and international immigration policy and other matters that impact immigrant workers. Before joining the AFL-CIO, Ms. Avendaño served as Assistant General Counsel to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union where she was actively involved in the development of the labor movement's historic call for legalization and immigration reform. Ms. Avendaño is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and the University of California at Berkeley.

Charlene Dukes, President, Prince George's Community College
Dr. Charlene M. Dukes is the eighth president of Prince George's Community College and has thirty years of progressive leadership experience and administrative responsibility in higher education. With more than 44,000 students, 95% of whom are students of color, the college has been identified as a predominantly black institution and a White House Champion of Change due to the partnership with the Prince George's County Public Schools in the creation of a Middle College, known as the Academy for Health Sciences at Prince George's Community College. This program is the first of its kind in the state of Maryland. From 2002 through 2006, she served on the Appointed Board of Education of Prince George’s County. In May 2007, she accepted an appointment from Governor Martin O’Malley to serve on the Maryland State Board of Education and serves as vice-president. In October 2007, the African-American Alumni Council of the University of Pittsburgh recognized Dr. Dukes as an Outstanding Alumnus, and in 2008, she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Washingtonian recognized her, in 2011, as one of "100 Most Powerful Women" in the Washington DC region. She accepted recent appointments to the Boards of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Association of Community Colleges. Dr. Dukes is a member of the board of directors of the Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce, the Business Round Table, the Harlem Renaissance Foundation, Hillside Works-Scholarship Connection, Doctors' Community Hospital, and College Summit. She serves as secretary of the President's Round Table. Dr. Dukes has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with an English concentration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master's and Doctorate in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She resides in Glenn Dale, Maryland, and her son, Maurice Dukes, is a senior at Howard University.

Audrey Singer, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution
Audrey Singer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. Her areas of expertise include demography, international migration, U.S. immigration policy, and urban and metropolitan change. She has written extensively on U.S. immigration trends, including immigrant integration, undocumented migration, naturalization and citizenship, and the changing racial and ethnic composition of the United States. Her co-edited book, Twenty-First Century Gateways: Immigrant Incorporation in Suburban America, focuses on the fastest growing immigrant populations among second-tier metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC and Atlanta. Other Brookings publications include, The Geography of Immigrant Skills, The Rise of New Immigrant Gateways, and From 'Here' to 'There:' Refugee Resettlement in Metropolitan America. Her articles have appeared in academic journals such as International Migration Review, Demography, Urban Geography, Geographical Review, and Ethnic and Racial Studies and her commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN.com among others. Prior to joining Brookings, Singer was an associate in the International Migration Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to Carnegie, she held a faculty position in the Department of Demography at Georgetown University, and was a demographic analyst at the U.S. Department of Labor. She was chair of the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association in 2010. Singer earned a Ph.D. in sociology, with a specialization in demography, from the University of Texas at Austin.

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA de Maryland
Mr. Torres has been recognized nationally and internationally for his leadership and vision in the immigrant rights movement in the United States. Originally a union leader from Colombia, Mr. Torres came to the U.S. to avoid political and economic crisis that was occurring at the time in his country. He joined CASA's staff as a community organizer, and has served as CASA’s Executive Director since 1994. Under his leadership, CASA has grown from an organization with a handful of staff members and a budget of under $500,000 to a nationally awarded multi-service Latino advocacy and support agency with a staff of over 70 and a budget of nearly $6 million. Mr. Torres was the founding president of the Maryland Latino Coalition for Justice, a statewide grassroots lobbying organization, and has served as a Board member on the National Capital Immigration Coalition, the Prince George's County Executive Transition Committee, Board President of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, member of the Envision Greater Washington Work Group to develop a strategic visioning process for the region for the next 25 years, and on numerous task forces and leadership groups addressing issues of diversity, immigrant rights, and multiculturalism across the Washington metropolitan area. In December 2001 Mr. Torres received the Ford Foundation's prestigious "Leadership for a Changing World" award, akin to the MacArthur Genius Awards presented to 12 grassroots leaders nationwide. In 2002, Mr. Torres was named one of 15 Washingtonians of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. Under his direction, CASA has received numerous awards and national recognition, including: the National Council of La Raza Affiliate of the Year Award in 2004, which recognized one of over 300 Hispanic-serving organizations for their excellence in serving the Latino community; the Letelier-Moffitt Domestic Human Rights Award, presented to CASA by the Institute for Policy Studies in 2003; the Annie E. Casey Foundation "Families Count!" award, presented to CASA in 2005; the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund Community Service Award, presented in March 2006, the Center for Community Change "Champions" Award in 2009, and the Bank of America "Neighborhood Excellence Award" in 2009. He was the subject of a Washington Post Magazine feature article: Head of CASA is a Man with a Plan, which was the cover of the July 17, 2011 issue.

Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
United States
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Matt Helmer · · 202-341-4992