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. Our immigration work is rooted in our founders’ respect for the immigrants they saw working to make a better life, and propelled by the ambition of fair and equitable treatment for all people.
Immigration Makes Us Stronger
Boosts the Economy: A modernized immigration system will lead to higher wages and increased tax revenue. Immigrants establish companies, create jobs, and drive innovation. In the next decade, 85% of workforce growth will come from immigrants.
Creates Opportunity: People immigrate to the U.S. to provide better opportunities for themselves and their children. Our current immigration system penalizes these individuals and tears families apart. New citizens average higher earnings, become more engaged in their community, and can participate politically.
Strengthens Society: Through immigration we gain inventive and productive members of society; a stronger, more flexible economy; and more robust communities. Every sector, and every person stands to benefit from immigration reform. More than 40% of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.
More than 11 million people are living in the U.S. without legal status. Eliminating barriers to immigration creates opportunities for aspiring Americans, allowing them to unleash their potential, fully participate in society and contribute to this country that they call home.
The country needs a fair and efficient immigration system so that:
- Skilled workers can apply their training while being joined by their families.
- Employers can recruit foreign-born workers to meet the country’s labor needs.
- Students who graduate can go on to share their skills and realize their dreams.
- People in all sectors are protected from exploitation and discrimination.
The immigrant rights movement is one of the most dynamic social movements of our time. All of society stands to gain. Nearly 90 percent of 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.
California Forges Ahead
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 ten 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, and allowing law students to apply to the California Bar.
How We'll Get There
The Haas, Jr. Fund supports and partners with many of the key organizations working for immigration reform.
We work with our grantees to:
- Create greater understanding of the need for federal and state policy reform. 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 (such as the California Immigrant Policy Center and MALDEF) 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.
- Encourage grassroots involvement of immigrants. 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.
- Increase the number of citizens in California and nationally. 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.
- Build a stronger immigrant rights movement. 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.
- Advance the cause of the Dreamers. We are working with our movement partners to promote greater awareness of the unique needs of Dreamers. In December 2012, we 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.
- Nurture movement leaders. 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.