DC Immigrant Justice Platform: Uniting to Promote Vital Reforms for DC’s Immigrant Community


Legal Aid DC is proud to participate in the DC Immigrant Justice Platform (#ImmigrantJusticeDC), which represents a united effort by immigrants and immigrants’ rights groups to champion several local policy initiatives that would benefit DC’s immigrant community.

At Legal Aid, we witness how our immigrant clients face insecurity in their day-to-day lives due to lack of work authorization and fear of deportation, leaving them particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. In addition, recent migrants to DC – including many who are fleeing persecution – often lack basic necessities for survival such as food and shelter. But even immigrants in our community who are long-time DC residents are prohibited from voicing their opinions through voting, and continuously face barriers due to racism, xenophobia, classism, lack of language access, and discrimination based on immigration status. These are not isolated issues, but are interrelated components of a machinery of compounding systemic oppression.

We believe that supporting immigrants’ rights means supporting policies that are anti-racist and anti-poverty, and advocating for our immigrant neighbors to be afforded basic human rights, safety, and security. The DC Immigrant Justice Platform seeks to highlight the interconnectedness of all of these issues, which these policy initiatives (as summarized below) seek to address.

Giving Noncitizens A Voice in Local Voting Issues

  • Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act

    • What it does: Beginning in the 2024 elections, this bill gives limited voting rights to the estimated 50,000 residents of the District who are not citizens of the United States, allowing them to vote in local elections as well as ballot initiatives, referenda, recalls, or charter amendment measures on a District ballot.

    • Why it’s important: This bill reaffirms a core value in our democracy that people in a community should decide important local political issues.

    • Status: This bill was passed by the DC Council on October 18, 2022.

    • What’s left to be done: This bill needs to pass Congressional review and receive local funding. The House of Representatives has voted to block this bill. This is a clear overreach by Congress and we hope the effort to parent DC Council and decide our local matters handily fails.  If the bill passes its Congressional review period, it is set to become law on March 8, 2023. It will then require funding of approximately $1.42 million in FY2023 and $1.64 million over the financial plan to implement the bill.

 Protecting Domestic Workers

  • Domestic Worker Employment Rights Amendment Act

    • What it does: This bill provides basic protections to approximately 9,000 domestic workers -- including housecleaners, nannies and home care workers -- working in DC, the majority of whom are immigrant women of color. The bill includes domestic workers in the employment discrimination protections of DC's Human Rights Act, the only group of workers who were previously excluded from this law. This bill also ends the exclusion of domestic workers from DC’s occupational health and safety law, gives domestic workers the right to a job contract with their employers, and ensures domestic workers will know their rights by establishing an outreach and education program.

    • Why it’s important: This is a gender and racial justice issue in addition to a labor justice issue. It is precisely because this workforce has traditionally been made up of women of color that the work has never been properly valued. In an industry already characterized by high rates of wage theft and harassment, immigrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation at work and to immigration-related retaliation if they speak up about violations of their rights.

    • Status: This bill was passed by the DC Council on December 20, 2022.

    • What’s left to be done: This bill needs to pass Congressional review, needs effective implementation by executive agencies including from the Attorney General’s office, Department of Employment Services and the Office of Human Rights, and needs $912,000 in funding in DC’s FY24 budget

Supporting Vulnerable Immigrant Youth

  • Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Amendment Act

    • What it does: This bill extends DC Superior Court jurisdiction in a narrow way by adding new sections to DC law that will align DC and federal law with the dual goals of: 1) providing immigrant youth living in DC increased opportunities for stability and productivity in DC by having an adult guardian in their lives, and 2) increasing access to immigration relief through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

    • Why it’s important: Immigrant youth ages 18-21 will be able to access legal immigration status, as well as benefit from having a guardianship relationship with an adult to provide ongoing support as they enter young adulthood and integrate into the community.

    • Status: This bill was introduced in the DC Council on January 19, 2023.

    • What’s left to be done: A public hearing date needs to be set by co-introducer and Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Chair, Councilmember Brooke Pinto with comments from the Committee on Facilities and Family Services chaired by Councilmember Janeese Lewis George.

Decriminalizing Street Vending

  • Street Vendor Advancement Amendment Act

    • What it does: This bill will decriminalize street vending, a long-established practice in DC, while making it cheaper and easier for vendors to both get a license and comply with vending laws and regulations. It would also remove criminal background check requirements for vendors and permit the creation of sidewalk vending zones across the city.

    • Why it’s important: This bill would stop the racist enforcement of current statutes criminalizing street vending (almost 100% of people arrested under this law are non-white – most are black men) and make it easier for vendors to comply with regulations.

    • Status: This bill was introduced in the DC Council on January 25, 2023.

    • What’s left to be done: A similar version of this bill had a hearing in the Committee of the Whole in November 2022. Currently, the Council needs to move forward with this new version of the bill.

Safely Sheltering Migrants Through Amending Temporary Legislation Regarding Migrant Services

  • Migrant Services and Supports Temporary Act

    • What it does: The Migrant Services and Supports Act of 2022 is meant to support migrants bused to DC from Texas and Arizona, but in reality it is a deeply harmful bill that will have broad impacts on the DC immigrant community. Title I of the Act creates an Office of Migrant Services (OMS), under the Department of Human Services (DHS), and defines its function. Title II amends the Homeless Services Reform Act (HSRA) to redefine who is considered a resident by excluding many migrants from accessing homeless services and continuum of care in the District. These two titles together 1) create an alternative “stream of services” for migrants that doesn’t include any long-term housing support or wraparound services and 2) exclude many migrants from accessing homeless services that are available to others.

    • Why it’s important to amend this temporary bill: Our proposed amendments focus on harm reduction by introducing health and safety standards to the Office of Migrant Services, outlining services OMS is required to provide, and creating a system of due process for people who are denied services.

    • Status: A temporary version of this bill was passed. It expires on August 3, 2023.

    • What’s left to be done: The Council should adopt harm reduction amendments with input from the mutual aid groups that have directly supported the migrants and amend Title II, which makes broad categories of immigrants, including long-time DC residents ineligible for homeless services under HSRA.


Please follow and widely share the DC Immigrant Justice Platform at #ImmigrantJusticeDC for more information and updates.

Latest Blogs Posts