A special task for employers of immigrants

For #SanctuaryHomes participants who are domestic employers (that is, a nanny, house cleaner, or home care attendant works for you or in your home), we have a special question this week: Have you planned for the holidays yet?

Amidst all the political chaos, it can be hard to remember that the holidays are coming, but it's a great time to reflect on yet another facet of our communities and daily lives, especially how immigrant workers may be a part of them.

How much has the nanny, cleaner, or home attendant you employe done to make your year a better one in 2017?

In a turbulent year, has their work provided relief, support, stability, or ease?
If so, now is the time to return the favor: Learn how to bring more light into your home as an employer during the holiday season, including year-end bonuses and planning for time off.

For many of us at Hand in Hand, the labor of a professional domestic worker has allowed us do to more of the work we want and need to do, from caring for children and parents to showing up at the office to living independently at home. And yes, protesting! (Sometimes, we even did that together.)

Reflecting on our own stress and anxiety this year, we can appreciate how much domestic workers have faced themselves, as a workforce that is mostly immigrants and women of color. (One star nanny, Namrata, was honored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance this month on the one hand, while dealing with the risk of her protected immigration status being revoked on the other.)  


As we know from our own jobs and lives, it means a lot to hear that our hard work is appreciated. It strengthens our relationships and gives us more energy for the year ahead.  

Because domestic work has often been “informal” or seen as different from other professions, and because December can be hectic (so hectic!) it can be easy to forget that we need to put on our employer hat —it’s the one that says “Boss” on one side and “Human Resources” on the other. But it’s not only manageable, it’s really worthwhile.

As one worker said:  “A bonus and paid time off show how much my employer values my work. It gives me a sense of dedication to the family I work for. When they come back from their holiday vacation, I’m here waiting.”

Here are 3 things to keep in mind, based on the Fair Care Pledge, our three golden rules of being an employer at home: Fair pay, Clear expectations, and Paid Time Off.

The Bonus

An average year-end bonus is usually between one and two weeks pay, although if it feels right to your family, you can of course choose to give more. Think of the bonus as an expression of how much you value your employee, within the boundaries of what you can realistically afford.

The “Annual Review”

The holiday bonus provides you with a great opportunity to communicate what you valued about your employee’s work over the past year.

If your employee has taken on more responsibilities over the past year than in her initial job description, an increase in her wages is a more appropriate way to compensate her for stepping up.

You may wish to let the nanny, housecleaner, or home attendant you employ know to expect a bonus (different from a holiday gift, though those are great too!) so she can take it into consideration when making her own holiday plans.


Please keep in mind that a bonus is not a replacement for paid time off. Your employee is also looking forward to their own holiday traditions, so make sure to give generously here too wherever possible.

This has been a challenging year for many, many people, and domestic workers may have had an especially difficult year. Economic security is a gift to both body and soul. Together, we can bring more light to the end of a year that has felt dark for many. Make sure the person you employ gets the chance to have a restorative holiday season, and then, have a great one yourself!    

Our complete guide to holidays & year-end bonuses is available here! 




How 3 Parents Are Building Community and Resisting Trump — at Daycare

When Trump was elected, our families were worried about the impact that a possible anti-immigrant crackdown could have on our immigrant friends and neighbors, and in particular the Latina women who care for our children at a neighborhood daycare in Washington DC.

A small group of parents started talking about how we could let the staff know that we appreciate them, were upset by the anti-immigrant rhetoric and promised policies during the election, and that we wanted to support them however we could. I want to share my story of finding the right course of action to encourage others to find theirs.

First, we read and discussed the resources that Hand in Hand put out after the election about how to dialogue with targeted people and offer concrete support. We tried to figure out how to best communicate our support to all of the workers without overstepping with the daycare owner (also a Latina immigrant). We also debated whether or not to discuss the issue with the entire parent group, including people whose positions on immigrant issues we did not know.  

We ended up deciding not to go to the broader parent group but decided that those of us who were able (mostly based on our ability to communicate in Spanish) would talk to the owner, and other workers as possible, in person. A number of us also included messages in our holiday cards to all the staff last year. Farah had a good conversation with the owner and later a couple staff members, letting them know what that we wanted to make sure that the staff feels supported by the parents, that we were happy to talk about  any concerns, and were also happy to provide any information or resources that we could.

Even though they seemed general at the time, it turns out that these conversations opened the door. A couple months later, when a “Day Without An Immigrant” was organized for February, the daycare owner told us that she wished her team could participate. Our families were new to parenting and to the daycare, but Max quickly sent an email to the other parents at the daycare, some of whom we didn't know yet, to see if they could keep their kids home. A couple people chimed in with offers to take a turn watching any kids whose parents couldn't rearrange their work schedules. Farah called the parents who did not respond to the email to ensure that they had both gotten the email and were not annoyed or offended.

The response was more enthusiastic than we could have hoped - nearly all the families made alternate arrangements. Even the parents who didn't get the message in time and did bring in their kids were able to pick them up early. This quick organizing meant that all of the employees of the daycare were able to take the day to protest or mark it as they wished, with only the owner staying to watch the few children who were there for the morning.

We began with the intention of deepening our relationship with the workers who care for our kids, but this experience also brought us closer to the other parents. I was surprised at how supportive they were, and that they were willing to rearrange their schedules on short notice. It also showed the daycare owner and staff that we were with them. As we've become closer, we've been able to join forces as parents to mark deaths and births in the families of the daycare providers.

Since then, we have been asked to provide resources to answer people's questions, including info sheets on what to do if ICE comes to the door, and contact information for local groups that provide legal aid. Both of our families are also organizing and protesting to push for justice at a city and national level. We were glad to have the chance to engage more directly with the people we see every day, and to take a small act in solidarity with them.

— Farah, Max, and Jess

Will parents be deported before the holidays?

Thousands of you brought the DREAM to your Thanksgiving tables last week, inspired by the #SanctuaryHomes toolkit. Thank you so much for spreading the word and for making hundreds of critical phone calls demanding Congress pass a clean DREAM Act by the end of the the year.

Congress must be feeling the heat, and our partners in the immigrants rights movement are urging all of us to keep up the pressure.  For the next month, we’re helping We Belong Together collect thousands of letters from kids all over the country, kids like Jasmine who want to help.  

Will you join us in getting the whole family involved?

Jasmine (left) is a child of parents who are DACA recipients.  She is living in fear that her parents will be deported. While some kids are wondering what presents they’ll get, Jasmine is scared that she “won’t have my mommy for Christmas.”

Instead of asking Santa to keep her mom home for Christmas, Jasmine sent a letter to Congress.

jasmine and letter.jpg

Keeping all members of our communities safe this holiday season should not be left only to communities under attack.  It is up to all of us to keep everyone safe. 

Will your family join ours in this fight? Write a letter along with a kid you love, asking Congress to pass the DREAM Act, protect families with TPS, and stop tearing our families apart.You can deliver your letter in person, locally, or send it to us. In December, we’ll be delivering all the letters to Congress in person. 

If we don't succeed, how many children might spend the holidays without a parent this year because of Trump’s decision to end DACA? As many of us at Hand in Hand are parents, it hurts to imagine.

Click here to find a guide with ideas to get kids inspired to write their own letters.

Inspiration to act: A s'mores story

When our friends at United We Dream asked us to help get as many people as we could to act in solidarity with the DREAMers and their families, we created the Bringing the Dream Home toolkit for people to use over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Why at Thanksgiving? The next three weeks are our best chance to get Congress to pass an immigration bill—the DREAM Act—to protect immigrants who came to this country as children and their families. And, what is Thanksgiving but a remembrance of a time when a local community offered support to more recently arrived immigrants?

Since creating the toolkit, we've had a call with United We Dream's co-founder Cristina Jimenez, had it shared by partners like CTZNWELL and ParentsTogether, seen it featured in The Nation, and heard from so many that they welcome the chance to take concrete action to make a difference.

Our favorite story so far comes from Tara in Ohio: 

"We crossed three things off my fall bucket list last night: Having a bonfire, introducing my 2-year old daughter to s'mores, and doing our part to fight for a clean Dream Act. 

We asked our neighbors to set up the bonfire in their yard, and I brought the s'mores fixings.  While the fire was getting going, I talked to my neighbors about why I am so concerned about the DREAMers. They shared their own story about a family they know which is being torn apart by current immigration policy: My neighbor saw a girl crying in the after-school care program where she works. It turned out her father is being separated from her and her mother, who is also pregnant. 

Everyone agreed we wanted to take action. I suggested we all call our representatives—especially Senator Portman, who has not committed to supporting the Dream Act. So we all took out our phones, called and left messages urging for action before the end of the year.

And if you're wondering how my daughter liked her first more, it was a big hit, and she announced that chocolate was the best part. I would encourage other people to find a way to do something similar—it was delicious and meaningful to take action together that night."


November 14 is National Call In Day

Demand A Permanent Protection for Undocumented Youth!

There is one simple action we all take today.  Call your Representative in Congress and find out where they stand on passing a clean DREAM Act this year.  Share your story and ask them to stand with young immigrants and do what’s right for our communities.

Call:  1-844-641-3873

(Don’t worry if you don’t know who your Representative is or want to share with someone in another district.  When using this number all you need is your zipcode and to follow the prompts.)


Hello!  My name is ______ and I’m calling from _______ (town/city) in _____________ (state).  I’m calling to ask Representative XXX to pass a DREAM Act before the end of the year that allows young immigrants to stay in the country they call home, without adding a single dollar to Trump’s immigration enforcement measures.  Is Representative XXX committed to passing a clean DREAM Act before the end of the year?

Talking points you can add:

  • Most Dreamers are either studying or working and contribute millions of tax dollars every year in state and local taxes

  • Permanent protection for undocumented youth means passing a bill to protect Dreamers without using that same bill to fund a border wall, mass deportations, or inhumane detention centers.  Please add it to the budget!

  • The United States is the only country most Dreamers have ever known

  • We belong together!  Don’t tear apart families and communities.

I support a permanent protection for undocumented youth and I hope the [Senator/Representative] will as well.  Will you share my message with her/him?

Thank you.

Once you’ve made the call think about who else you can ask to take this action on this critical National Call In Day for a clean DREAM Act.  Ask a friend or family member to join you.  Post on social media and help us spread the word.  Thank you so much!