This week, many host families received letters from their Au Pair Agencies and/or from the Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange. (Note: The Alliance is an advocacy group for cultural exchange programs. Many au pair agencies are members). Previously, we’ve received requests to contact our Representatives about changes in Tax Law.
(See links below for more details. A sample of the letters to the host families is also below.)
The Agencies and the Alliance are urging Host Families to contact our Senators and express our opposition to the changes. Should we follow their recommendation?
A few host parents have emailed me to express their concern about the proposed changes. Others have emailed questioning whether the Agencies’ and Alliance’s perspectives on the issue are really the best approach for doing what’s right by au pairs, host families and the exchange programs themselves.
For example, JJHost Mom emailed:
Personally I’m disturbed by the idea (in the legislation) of specifically saying that au pairs aren’t workers, and that this isn’t a job for them. It is a job, and it’s hard work. It is also a cultural exchange. It’s not one or the other.
But I don’t know the legal implications of following this thought through. I would love to hear the opinions of the other host parents, specifically those in the legal profession or those who really understand this legislation.
Lucky for us, we have several active Host Parents who are lawyers, who work for the Government, and/or who are really smart.
What do you all think?
- Will these changes protect Au Pairs or put them in a worse situation?
- How much should we host parents care about what’s convenient for us, versus what Homeland Security would prefer?
- How many of us would prefer the government to deal with Guantanamo or close corporate tax loopholes instead of focusing on Au Pairs’ immigration classifications?
- Should we send in our letters for or against the proposals?
- Should we ask the Agencies to make some other program changes to support Au Pairs and Host Families where immigration and visas are concerned?
The floor is open– comment away!
Dear Host Family,
Congress is currently considering legislation that would overhaul our immigration system. Certain sections of the immigration bill presently being debated by the Senate would create more cost and complexity for the Au Pair Program and could greatly harm, and potentially even end, this valuable exchange.
A section of the Senate immigration bill on “the prevention of trafficking of persons” considers au pairs and other exchange visitors as “workers,” not as the cultural exchange participants they are. Such a step would:
- Make the program more expensive for American host families by creating new programmatic fees;
- Create more regulatory complexity for American host families by transferring a portion of the program’s authority from the Department of State to the Department of Homeland Security; and
- Endanger the future of this important cultural exchange program.
Please take two minutes today and send a letter to your Senators, asking them to oppose these provisions of the Senate immigration bill, and to support exempting au pairs and other Department of State exchange visitors from this human trafficking section.
To send your letter, please follow this link:
You need only enter your name, address, and email, and the pre-written letter will be sent automatically to your Senators. (You may also edit the text of the letter and make it more personal if you wish.)
The link will take you to the website of the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, an association of many U.S. exchange organizations to which we belong. It is critical that your Senators hear from you as soon as possible. We need to generate the highest possible volume of letters within the next few days to ensure that any immigration bill strengthens important international exchanges like the Au Pair Program, rather than weakens them.
Thank you for your support! Please reply to this email if you have any questions.
Sr. Vice President & Director
Au Pair in America