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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Best and worst from this week’s headlines

Following the lead of Maryland and Virginia, lawmakers introduced legislation in the District this week that would protect employees and tenants from extortion based on their immigration status.

While the legislation would make the District feel safer for one group of people, news from campus this week makes others feel discouraged. A federal probe revealed that many of GW’s main websites are inaccessible for people with disabilities, but the University’s efforts to mend the problem are insufficient.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs up:

Immigrants play a vital role in the District’s community and protecting their ability to live and work here without fear of deportation should be a priority.

This week, D.C. Councilmember Brandon Todd introduced a bill to protect immigrants by making it illegal for employers and tenants to threaten to notify law enforcement about their legal status. This bill should make immigrants, whether they are here legally or illegally, feel safer in the District. The bill will amend the District’s current extortion statute by preventing employers or landlords from using an individual’s undocumented status as leverage against them.

As immigrants are under scrutiny across the country, it is important that the nation’s capital acts as an example for other communities. Immigrants and their communities should feel safe in the District when calling the police, going to work or finding a place to live. By expanding protections like this, D.C. would send a message to immigrants that they are welcome and safe here despite the actions by President Donald Trump and his administration.

Undocumented immigrants contribute nearly $32 million in local taxes each year and all immigrants, regardless of legal status, comprise 18 percent of the city’s workforce and own more than half of the city’s local businesses. Immigrants are part of the city’s vibrant culture and we must make them feel safe and at home in D.C.

During a time when the federal government has pulled families apart, it’s important that we all fight to keep families together.

Thumbs down:

An investigation that began in April 2017 by the Department of Education found that many of the University’s websites lack accommodations for students with disabilities.

University websites were found to lack certain features like captions or proper formatting, that would allow people with certain disabilities to access them. The University agreed to resolve this problem in a resolution letter that was obtained by The Hatchet, but those actions are not enough.

The University’s failure to meet these standards is disturbing, especially considering these errors were found on the University’s home page and Facebook account. Not only does this affect current students, but it could prevent prospective students or parents from learning about GW. It is inexcusable for these pages to not be equipped for all types of users, especially because students need to access these sites on a daily basis.

The lack of transparency about the investigation and resolution is also worrisome. At the time of the resolution, University officials refused to provide information about the plan to solve these problems. Students, especially those that have been affected, have the right to know what the University will do to fix problems.

The agreement to resolve these problems states that GW will satisfy problems by April 2020, three years after the initial complaint. This timeline is unfair to students, staff and parents that are affected. Current students may have graduated by the time the University fixes these problems, and prospective students may be turned off by the inaccessibility of these important websites.

It is in the University’s best interest to solve accessibility issues well before the set date of 2020 in order to properly provide for its students.

Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a sophomore majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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