Manuel Madrid

Manuel Madrid is a writing fellow at The American Prospect

Recent Articles

D.C. Council Repeals Wage Bump for Tipped Workers, Will of Voters Be Damned

Washingtonians voted for an initiative raising wages. Their elected representatives just nullified that vote.

trickle-downers.jpg Washington, D.C., lawmakers voted 8 to 5 on Tuesday to repeal a voter-passed ballot measure known as Initiative 77—the will of their constituents be damned. Initiative 77, which received 55 percent of the vote in the June primary election, would have gradually raised the minimum wage for tipped workers in the District, starting with a modest increase on October 9, eventually reaching parity with the city’s minimum wage in 2026. Currently, employers are allowed to pay tipped workers less than the District’s $13.25 minimum wage, so long as their tips make up the difference. The council’s vote snuffed out, at least temporarily, what had become a major flashpoint in local politics, one that pitted restaurant owners, restaurant lobbying groups, and high-earning servers and bartenders against worker-advocacy organizations and lower-earning tipped workers. In a 16-hour public hearing in September, opponents of Initiative 77 warned that the measure...

Trump’s America: Poor Immigrants Need Not Apply

A proposed Department of Homeland Security rule would make it more difficult for indigent people to obtain green cards.

trickle-downers_54.jpg The Trump administration is weaponizing food stamps, family financial assistance, and other public benefits to make good on its promise to drive poor immigrants out of the country. On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a preliminary version of a draft regulation that would give the federal government broader authority to deny green-cards to people who could become “public charges,” that is, dependent on welfare programs. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that the change aims to promote “immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.” But a growing number of critics say that it will serve to discriminate against low-income immigrants, especially people of color, and their families, scaring them off public benefit programs they are legally entitled to and indirectly harming the communities they live in. But...

Tipped Workers Do Better When They’re Paid the Same as Everyone Else

A new study shows that laws like D.C.’s Initiative 77 boost employees’ incomes and don’t cripple the restaurant industry. 

trickle-downers_35.jpg The debate over increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers in Washington, D.C., is set to resume next week, as the D.C. City Council returns from its summer recess to decide the future of the voter-approved ballot measure known as Initiative 77. Initiative 77, which passed with 55 percent of vote in the low-turnout June primary election, would gradually increase the tipped minimum wage over the next eight years until it reaches parity with the city’s regular minimum wage of $15 in 2026. Currently, tipped workers in the District must be paid at least $3.89 an hour. If their earnings fall short of the city’s $13.25 minimum wage after counting tips, employers are then required to make up the difference. Gratuities paid by the customer that cover $9.36 difference between the two wages is known as the “tip credit.” Eight states, including California and Washington, have eliminated or begun to phase out the tip credit, bringing the wages of...

Packing in the Migrant Kids, Even When Beds Are Running Short

Trump’s shelters for migrant children veer dangerously close to capacity.

(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via AP)
Shelters designated for migrant children in government custody are projected to reach maximum operational capacity this week, according to an internal report from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which The American Prospect has obtained. The report, which was circulated among office staff at the end of August, projects that 90 percent of the agency’s 14,000 beds, including unfunded reserve beds, will be filled this week. The office’s maximum capacity target (85 percent of beds) has already been surpassed, according to the report. ORR currently has just short of 1,100 available funded beds. Even after federal officials reunited more than 2,000 separated immigrant children with their parents in July, the number of children in shelters remains staggeringly high. There are currently more than 12,300 children in ORR care—an almost 10 percent increase from the end of July. That’s a 300 percent...

The Big Business of Exploiting Au Pairs

A State Department program that oversees the nation’s au pair programs isn’t doing much overseeing at all.

trickle-downers.jpg A lack of federal oversight has led to flagrant abuses of international students who come to the United States to care for children for low pay, according to “Shortchanged,” a report released this week. Now, immigrant advocacy groups are pressuring for change. Au pairs, most of whom are women, are each charged as much as $2,500 to participate in what placement agencies and the State Department describe as a “cultural exchange” program for young people looking to practice their English and learn about American culture. Under the J-1 visa program, au pairs are placed in a home by a sponsor company and are tasked with caring for the host family's children, much like a live-in nanny. Unlike live-in nannies, however, au pairs have no guaranteed sick days or federal holidays. They earn a flat wage of $4.35 an hour after sponsor agencies deduct room and board from their pay, which lands them at $195.75 a week for 45 hours of work. The au pair...