Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Group strives to push for immigrants' rights

A movie called "Made In L.A." is about women who worked in sweatshops in California. A group in Stamford screened the film, hoping to get people to see immigrants as an important part of our country. DP

By Magdalene Perez, Staff Writer

STAMFORD - When Beatrice Chodosh and Ana Maria Badash set out to screen a movie about sweatshops, they hoped the film would change the way people think about immigration.

The women met their goal Sunday, when their group, Coalition of Residents and Immigrants in Solidarity, screened the documentary "Made In L.A." at Ferguson Library, Chodosh said. About 60 people attended the event, despite a screening time that coincided with the annual big-balloon parade.

"Made In L.A." follows the stories of Lupe Hernandez, Maria Pineda and Maura Colorado, three women who left their families at a young age to find work in California.

What they got were jobs working for a major clothing manufacturer, Forever 21, with hours of toil under harsh conditions. After many years, the women took a stand by launching a public lawsuit and boycott against the company, which they won.

Chodosh, a psychotherapist in Bridgeport and Stamford who has her own immigration story, said the movie inspired viewers to have compassion for immigrants, who often leave their families behind and work hard under poor conditions. During a discussion after the screening, participants said they were shocked to learn of the injustices they saw in the film, Chodosh said.

"Some people got really emotional. They felt for those women," Chodosh said. "What happened was the movie motivated the audience to find out how they can help out these families in need."

Chodosh came to the United States from Argentina 20 years ago, when Argentine rulers persecuted the opposition in the so-called "Dirty War."

Coalition of Residents and Immigrants in Solidarity was founded to reach out to immigrants in lower Fairfield County and respond to the mistreatment of day laborers, Chodosh said. Through pro bono legal aid to workers, they heard of many cases in which workers were not paid or were mistreated by their employers, she said.

"We want to show that these people are human beings and how important they are because they contribute to society," Chodosh said.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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