Lessons for philanthropy and the nation
Program director Cathy Cha reflects on how far the immigrant rights movement in California has come, and how these advances became possible.
People come to the United States for the promise of freedom and opportunity. How we follow through on that promise defines us as a nation. The Haas, Jr. Fund’s immigration work is rooted in our founders’ respect for the immigrants they saw working for a better life, and in an abiding belief in fair and equitable treatment for all people.
A modernized immigration system will lead to higher wages and increased tax revenue. Immigrants establish companies, create jobs and drive innovation.
People come to the U.S. to provide better opportunities for themselves and their children. Immigration has enriched American communities throughout history.
Families are stronger and more stable when parents and children can stay together and have opportunities to thrive.
More than 11 million people are living in the U.S. without legal status. Eliminating barriers to immigration creates opportunities for these aspiring Americans, allowing them to unleash their potential, fully participate in society and contribute to the country they call home.
The United States needs a fair and efficient immigration system so that undocumented immigrants can join the mainstream of society and stop living in the shadows. It’s time to change the system so that:
who contribute to the economy can be joined by their families.
can recruit foreign-born workers to meet the country’s labor needs.
who graduate can go on to share their skills and realize their dreams.
across the nation can be protected from exploitation and discrimination.
The immigrant rights movement is one of the most dynamic social movements of our time—and it is making real progress. Today, nearly 9 in 10 Americans support immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. But, while we’re moving closer than even before, we still don’t have an equitable and inclusive immigration system.
Of the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., 2.6 million call California home. That’s one-quarter of the national total.
California’s economy is dependent on immigrants, who contribute to all sectors and make up one-third of the workforce.
Almost half of the state’s undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years. They are our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends.
California has taken some important steps to expand the rights of immigrants, including:
Providing public and private financial aid for Dreamers
Ensuring domestic workers have the basic right of overtime pay
Limiting police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Making it legal for all Californians to apply for a driver’s license
Allowing undocumented law students to apply to the California Bar
The Haas, Jr. Fund supports and partners with many of the key organizations working for immigration reform to:
We are supporting non-lobbying educational activities to create greater understanding about the need for federal immigration reform that puts 11 million aspiring Americans on a path to citizenship and addresses other movement priorities. At the state level, we are supporting organizations to educate the public and decision-makers about policy changes necessary to support immigrant rights and integration in California and make the state a model for the country.
We are working with our partners in California Civic Participation Funders to increase nonpartisan voter engagement and organizing in immigrant communities in San Diego, Orange County and the Inland Empire. In the years ahead, we will continue to support efforts aimed at engaging new and infrequent immigrant voters.
We are playing a leadership role in the New Americans Campaign, which aims to ease the path to citizenship for legal permanent residents (also known as green card holders). Since NAC started in mid-2011, over 52,000 citizenship applications have been completed. The New Americans Campaign seeks to help another 30,000 people overcome the barriers to becoming citizens this year.
We are helping the immigrant rights movement’s national leaders, including the National Immigration Forum, United We Dream and Center for Community Change, to craft messages and education campaigns that advance the cause of reform. We are supporting regional immigration coalitions, Dreamer networks and local groups (such as CHIRLA, SIREN and the Justice for Immigrants Coalition) as they carry out education efforts about the needs of immigrants. In addition, we support efforts to strengthen California’s voice in national policy debates such as the process that led to the development of the California Values Statement for Immigration Reform.
We are working with our movement partners to promote greater awareness of the unique needs of Dreamers. In December 2012, the Fund awarded $1 million to UC Berkeley, the nation's single-largest gift for scholarships for undocumented students. We are also supporting legal services and outreach to assist as many California Dreamers as possible to obtain authorization and temporary work permits under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
We are investing to build the skills of immigrant movement leaders across the state through the Fellowships for a New California. In addition, we are providing convening opportunities for the leaders of statewide immigration policy groups in California in order to increase collaboration within the movement.
Cathy leads the Fund’s efforts to create equal opportunities for immigrants in California and across the nation.
Our streets may not be paved with gold, but they are paved with the promise that men and women who live here—even strangers and newcomers—can rise as fast, as far as their skills will allow, no matter what their color is, no matter what the place of their birth.Senator Edward Kennedy