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Women's History Salons
Oral History, Women's Work, and the ILGWU's Role in Immigration Reform
May Chen, Muzaffar Chishti, Nancy Lorence, Sagrario Mendez, Rachel Bernstein (moderator)
Friday, June 21, 6:30 pm, Tech Commons | $15

Note: This event is sold out. 

Join us at the Center for Women's History for thrilling programs and intimate conversations with scholars, journalists, artists, activists, businesswomen, and more amazing leaders of today. Guided by its expert committee of scholars, the Center has a full calendar of public events and salons to explore. 


With the creation of its Immigration Project in 1983, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) became the first union to create a program to advocate for immigrant workers. The ILGWU went on to play an important advocacy role  leading up to the passage of the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA), enabling 2.7 million undocumented Americans to receive a pathway to legalization, a program commonly known as amnesty.

The Path Home: Immigrants Making America project has collected oral histories of both ILGWU staff members who assisted with IRCA’s passage and implementation and beneficiaries of IRCA’s amnesty program. This Center for Women’s History salon will present oral history excerpts and discuss the role of women in assisting with legalization and providing ESL and citizenship classes to empower formerly undocumented workers.

Presented in conjunction with the installation Ladies' Garments, Women's Work, Women's Activism.


Tech Commons, New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024


Free for Members of the Women’s History Council

By phone: Contact New-York Historical’s in-house call center at (212) 485-9268. Call center is open 9 am–5 pm daily.
Online: Click on the orange "Buy Tickets” button at the top of this page.
In person: Advance tickets may be purchased on site at New-York Historical’s Admissions desk during museum hours.

Advance purchase is required to guarantee particpation. Programs and dates may be subject to change. Program tickets do not include Museum Admission unless otherwise noted.

Lead support for the Center for Women's History programs provided by
Joyce B. Cowin, Diane and Adam E. Max, Jean Margo Reid, 
and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 


Opening remarks delivered by Muzaffar Chishti, a lawyer, is Director of MPI’s office at New York University School of Law. His work focuses on the intersection of labor and immigration law; immigration enforcement; civil liberties; and immigrant integration. Panelists include May Y. Chen, a retired union officer, educator, and community activist. Her labor union career of 25 years started with the ILGWU Immigration Project, which legalized thousands of union members under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Nancy Lorence worked with the ILGWU, UNITE and Workers United for 26 years in various capacities including as director of the ILGWU Immigration Project's Amnesty Education Program. Sagrario Mendez was born in Honduras, lives in New York and worked for years as a garment worker, union activist and leader with the ILGWU. Moderator, Rachel Bernstein is a founder of LaborArts, taught in the graduate program in public history at NYU for decades, and works on public history projects with the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU and the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education.


Creative: Tronvig Group