The Haas, Jr. Fund believes that immigrant voices must be heard as California and the nation debate issues that affect the lives of immigrants and their families. We are committed to building the power and influence of immigrants through partnerships and investments aimed at expanding immigrant voting and civic participation.
The demographics are powerful. California is home to 10 million immigrants. They represent nearly 30% of the state’s population and one-third of its workforce, including nine out of ten agricultural jobs. The 2010 Census showed that Latinos now make up 38 percent of the California population and half of underage Californians. Asians are the fastest-growing population in the state and now account for more than one out of every eight California residents.
Despite their large numbers, immigrants wield relatively little policy influence in California. Local and statewide debates about immigration issues tend to be dominated by anti-immigrant and nativist interests.
The Haas, Jr. Fund believes that immigrants’ influence should mirror their growing role in the California population. This is why the Fund was a leading supporter of efforts to ensure a fair and accurate count of all Californians, including hard-to-reach immigrant populations, in the 2010 Census. Working with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), the Haas, Jr. Fund helped develop and lead a statewide partnership to increase Census outreach to immigrant and low-income communities.
Building on the Census effort, the Fund is currently working with GCIR to create a statewide initiative aimed at helping eligible immigrants become U.S. citizens. California has 2.5 million immigrants who are eligible for citizenship and the many benefits it brings, from voting and access to public-sector jobs to student financial aid.
In other activities, the Fund is working to increase civic participation and voting among immigrants in seven targeted regions of the state. Working with a group of foundations that have come together as California Civic Participation Funders, the Haas, Jr. Fund Is seeking to strengthen local organizations in the targeted regions so they can mobilize and engage immigrant voters more effectively in their work.