Immigrant Rights, Immigrant Inclusion & Policy Reform

Strategies for Realizing the Full Potential of US Immigration Reform

Immigrants bring to the U.S. new riches in the form of cultural knowledge, enthusiasm, novel insights, creativity, and know-how in drawing on social capital to collectively better community life.

Integrating immigrants into community life is crucial for the well-being of American society. Exclusion of undocumented immigrants from access to educational opportunities, access to affordable health services, and participation in civic life, compromises America's alleged commitment to democracy and jeopardizes our collective well-being as part of an 21st century global society and economy.

We are working on practical strategies and policy proposals to move forward toward social, economic, and political equity for all and focusing, first and foremost, on the well-being of undocumented immigrants who are systematically excluded.

IMMIGRATION POLICY REFORM - It is now 30 years since the 1986 passage of IRCA provided an opportunity for 2.7 million immigrants living and working in the U.S. to move forward with their lives. But since then there has been no way, even for long-time settled immigrants lacking legal status to gain an equal footing, or for them and their families to participate fully in the life of their communities. President Obama committed his administration to work vigorously to pass immigration reform legislation but his efforts failed. His administration’s alternatives have had mixed success. DACA has now provided more than 700,000 immigrant youth and young adults with freedom from deportation but efforts to provide relief to 4 million undocumented immigrant parents were blocked. In light of the troubled political landscape in Congress, states and municipalities have begun a range of promising initiatives to do what they can to provide undocumented youth with access to college education and to integrate all immigrants into community life.

Immigration reform legislation needs to be created and passed which provides currently undocumented immigrants legal status and a pathway to citizenship, so they can fulfill their dreams and so the United States can fully benefit from their skills and energy.

At the same time we know that whatever the immigration reform legislation is that passes, will not be a panacea. We anticipate that following the very difficult work of negotiating enactment of an adequate bill, there will be a marathon of even more difficult work to enable all of the immigrants entitled to legal status to successfully apply. This important work is challenging but also provides exciting opportunities to “jump start” immigrant integration so as to allow currently unauthorized to move onward in their lives and upward in their careers.

FOLLOWING THROUGH ON POLICY REFORM - We have carefully followed the dedicated efforts by immigration reform advocates over the years and have now collaborated for 6 years in support of a wide range of immigrant-oriented service programs and policy research. We believe our most valuable contribution in the next several years will be to support (and advocate for):

  • A workable practical framework for immigrants to actually secure legal status and citizenship
  • Strategic action to assure that the promised "pathway to citizenship" is one which assures that immigrants have a fair chance to affect community decision-making and shape civic life
  • Developing the organizational capacity to prepare non-profits and other immigrant-friendly institutions to help legalization applicants get through the process successfully and then immediately move onward and upward in society
  • Fostering the community collaboration between public institutions such as schools, municipal and county government, and grassroots community organizations that will be required to assure immigrants equitable access to social programs and equitable representation in civic life.

IMPROVE CENSUS COUNT OF IMMIGRANTS AND OTHERS – A key element of immigrant inclusion is for the communities they live in to receive equitable access to education, health, community development, and other social programs. Overcoming more than half a century of differential undercount of minorities and immigrants in Census 2020 is a practical priority We are working energetically to advocate for support to small and rural communities with dense concentrations of immigrant in neighborhoods with crowded and substandard housing to help them overcome the challenge of census undercount—which deprives them and their constituents of equitable funding and equal community voice.

 RELATED GRANTS 
American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) —Support for advocacy for immigrant rights. $15,000

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus —2016 support for broadening services to help youth and adults apply for DACA. $20,000.

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF) —2016 support for additional legal services re DACA and naturalization. $18,500.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) —for support dissemination of best practices for helping immigrants apply for DACA or DAPA by providing comprehensive services to help assure they can complete their application and move on toward full integration into U.S. society. $15,000.

Centro Binacional de Desarollo Indigena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO) —General support; Specific support for "12 familias" ethnographic research project on lives of indigenous and other Mexican immigrant families in Fresno County. $185,000.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM) —2016 support for continued services to H2A workers and other migrants. $48,000.

Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) —Preparation of a policy brief with an analysis of "future flow" policy options for immigration reform legislation and proposed framework (NAVA) incorporating a genuinely market-driven approach and pathway to citizenship for future foreign-workers. Dissemination of the paper. $30,000.

Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) —General support for E4FC and for the Ph.D. (pre-Health DREAMers) project. PHD provides information, advice, and peer counseling to help undocumented students interested in health careers to go on to graduate school, coupled with outreach and collaboration with universities seeking to become more immigrant-friendly. $70,000.

Farmworker Justice (FJ) —Support for advocacy regarding the distinctive challenges farmworkers face in securing DACA or DAPA and coordination with other groups involved in planning for implementation of administrative relief. $160,000.

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) —Support for a information sharing and advocacy on behalf of undocumented Immigrants. Funding in 2014-15 supported a workshop by documentary photographer David Bacon at GCIR's biennial convention in the summer of 2014. $16,000.

Immigrant Legal Services Center (ILRC) —2016 Support additional legal services and training in conjunction with Fresno CVIIC initiatives. $923,000.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) —Support for the Immigrant Youth Scholarship Fund (DREAM Summer 2012). $24,000.

National Immigration Law Center (NILC) —Continued support for expert analysis of key legal issues related to DACA and DAPA, ongoing efforts to assure that agency guidelines for deferred action are practical and flexible, and ongoing efforts to assure that immigrants' initial steps onward and upward as a result of deferred action lead toward full social, economic, and civic integration. $190,000.

National Skills Coalition (NSC) —2016 support to foster WIOA (Workforce Investment Opportunity Act) access and effective services to immigrants and others who speak English as a second language and/or are limited in educational preparation. $67,000.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) —General support for Fair Food Campaign work to improve farmworker wages and working conditions, as well as leadership development. $82,000.

Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA) —Support for expanded DACA outreach and immigrant integration economic support. $8,000.

UCLA Downtown Labor Center (through the California Community Foundation and Regents of UCLA) —Continued support for DREAM Summer 2014, 2015, and 2016. $179,000.

USF Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic —Support for legal services for Central American refugees who live in California’s Central Valley. $10,000.

Welcoming America —Support for technical assistance to municipalities and counties to help them prepare for the 2020 Census by partnering with grassroots organizations to submit better information on low-visibility housing to the Census Bureau. $10,000.