Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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Exposed and At Risk: Opportunities to Strengthen Enforcement of Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety

September 13, 2022

In May 2021, the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems published Essentially Unprotected: A Focus on Farmworker Health Laws and Policies Addressing Pesticide Exposure and Heat-Related Illness as a companion report to the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future's report Essential and in Crisis: A Review of the Public Health Threats Facing Farmworkers in the US. Both reports focused on the public health threats facing farmworkers in the United States. Essentially Unprotected specifically addressed pesticide exposure and heat-related illness, highlighting the gaps in federal law in addition to state efforts to fill those gaps.This report was conceived by farmworker advocates to expand on the research and analysis contained in Essentially Unprotected. In continued partnership with Farmworker Justice, CAFS seeks to create resources to support the expansion of laws and policy that can improve conditions for workers throughout the food system. This report is part of a series that spotlights various issues affecting farmworkers where law and policy can play a role in offering protection.The direction of this report was influenced heavily by interviews with farmworker advocates in various states. Through these conversations, it became clear that the legal and regulatory landscape of pesticide law enforcement is complex given the cooperative relationship between federal and state governments and the myriad agencies involved at both levels. This resource is intended to provide clarity on pesticide regulation enforcement efforts to enable advocates and law and policymakers to identify opportunities for improvement. It concludes with a set of recommendations to better protect the health and safety of the farmworkers who comprise an integral part of our food system

Migrant Workers

Immigration Legal Services in California: A Time for Bold Action (2022 Update)

May 6, 2022

Recognizing the intensifying legal service needs of immigrant communities and legal service providers, GCIR and the California Immigrant Integration Initiative (CIII) launched a study in 2019 to understand the capacity of immigration legal services in California and generate recommendations for strategic philanthropic investment. This 2022 update is a supplement to the 2019-20 findings and recommendations and offers recommendations to strengthen immigration legal services in California for immigrants and asylum seekers. The report draws from 20 interviews with executive-level staff from legal service organizations and 80 responses to an online survey of a broad range of immigration legal service providers across the state.

Litigation/Legal Services

Food Insecurity Among Undocumented Immigrants in California and Exclusion from Nutrition Assistance Programs

April 29, 2022

California is home to the largest economy in the United States–and our nation's highest rate of poverty. That experience of deep hardship in the face of great prosperity holds true for many California immigrants. An estimated 11 million immigrants–including approximately 2.3 million undocumented immigrants–contribute to the rich diversity of the Golden State.The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated hardship and driven inequitable outcomes for immigrants across California. But hardships such as poverty and food insecurity persisted well before this public health emergency. Exclusionary policies continue to perpetuate poverty and food insecurity, inflicting harm on California's immigrant communities and the state at large.This brief draws on quantitative data and community voices to provide a novel, state-specific analysis of food insecurity and poverty among undocumented immigrants in California. These findings are essential to advance evidence-based policies that can make California a more equitable, inclusive place for all who call it home.

Health Care Access among California’s Farmworkers

April 25, 2022

Recent federal and state policies may have improved access to health insurance for farmworkers, who are important contributors to California's economy and an essential link in the food supply chain. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included an expansion of Medi-Cal to most low-income adults, and a mandate requiring companies with at least 50 workers to offer employer health insurance. California also expanded Medi-Cal to young undocumented immigrants, and will soon extend it to older individuals. This report investigates whether these policies coincided with better insurance coverage or reduced barriers to health care for immigrant farmworkers.Farmworkers are aging and more likely to settle in the US with family; thus, their health care needs—and those of their families and children—will likely grow. Cost or lack of insurance are the most salient barriers to health care for farmworkers; few farmworkers note barriers related to immigration status, although being undocumented is a strong predictor of lacking health insurance. Many documented farmworkers have enrolled in Medi-Cal following the ACA expansion, which has increased coverage rates and lowered cost and insurance barriers to health care. Undocumented farmworkers have not fared as well in these areas. Employer health insurance coverage for farmworkers did not change detectably with the rollout of the ACA employer mandate, regardless of a farmworker's documentation status or whether the worker was a direct hire versus a contractor. These findings take on special importance during the coronavirus pandemic. Farmworkers have continued to work during the public health emergency. Yet with California's high cost of housing, many farmworkers live in crowded conditions, making it difficult to remain socially distant from other household members. Although emergency Medi-Cal covers COVID-19 treatment regardless of immigration status, long COVID and resulting disability may threaten farmworkers' health and livelihoods.

Migrant Workers

Can You Verify? Addressing Work Authorization Restrictions As Obstacles to Workforce Development Equity for Immigrant Workers

March 9, 2022

This year, the Governor proposed over $250 million in funding for workforce development specifically intended to benefit immigrant communities. These investments include job training, support services, "earn and learn" opportunities, and more—promising, welcome, and necessary funding for our communities to gain better jobs in the workforce. But what does our current public workforce development system look like, especially for undocumented immigrant workers? Our latest research on workforce development, building off of our prior work, investigates how work authorization requirements may create unnecessary barriers for California's undocumented immigrant workforce when attempting to access public workforce services and resources. This report is the first-ever empirical analysis of the discrepancies in local workforce boards' policies and practices related to immigrant access to workforce development services. It offers new insights through original survey data collected from California's 45 local workforce development boards, COVID-19 and industry data on immigrant workers, and strategic recommendations that the California Workforce Development Board can implement to better support undocumented immigrant workers and remove exclusionary, and unneccesary, restrictions. 

Collusion in California’s Central Valley: The Case for Ending Sheriff Entanglement with ICE

February 17, 2022

Over the past decade, the California Legislature enacted a trio of critical laws intended to protect people from collusion between state and local law enforcement agencies and agencies engaged in immigration enforcement. Certain sheriffs and local law enforcement agencies, however, have circumvented these laws and undermined the protections envisioned for California immigrants — at times in consultation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As a result of these unlawful practices, sheriffs facilitate the reincarceration of noncitizen community members, whom ICE then forces to sit in prison-like detention awaiting trial, often without counsel. Collaboration between sheriffs and ICE are particularly destructive to the communities of the Central Valley: an expansive rural region with a large immigrant population, high poverty levels, and a dearth of legal services providers.This report exposes the different tactics used by Central Valley sheriffs to divert their resources to immigration enforcement and funnel noncitizen community members into the hands of immigration enforcement authorities. This report also reveals new details about the mechanisms developed by Central Valley sheriffs and law enforcement agencies in close partnership with ICE to evade pro-immigrant state laws. Notably, the practice of funneling people in Central Valley communities to ICE custody has continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens particularly dangerous results in the congregate settings of ICE detention centers, which have been plagued by outbreaks.A two-year bill that was introduced in 2021 (AB 937, VISION Act), if enacted, would strengthen prohibitions on entanglement between state and local law enforcement agencies and ICE. This report demonstrates the need for such a bill: to sever sheriff entanglement with immigration enforcement and better protect all California residents.

California Immigrant Policy Center 2021 Impact Report

January 27, 2022

The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) is a constituent-based statewide immigrant rights organization with staff presence in Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley. It is the premier immigrant rights institution in the state that promotes and protects safety, health and public benefits and integration programs for immigrants, and one of the few organizations that effectively combines legislative and policy advocacy, strategic communications, organizing and capacity building to pursue its mission. It is powered by a staff of policy experts and advocates; a Steering Committee composed of 13 statewide organizations; 85 member organizations; and nine regional coalition partners spanning Southern and Northern California, the Central Coast and the Central Valley. CIPC advocates for policies that uphold the humanity of immigrants and refugees while advancing racial, social and economic justice.

New Americans in Los Angeles County: The Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the County

December 16, 2021

New research from New American Economy underscores the crucial role immigrants in Los Angeles County play as essential workers, economic contributors, and business owners. This report was prepared in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). It also features profiles of two Los Angeles residents: Lizbeth Garcia and Emanel Noreza. The report was produced as part of NAE's and Welcoming America's Gateways for Growth Challenge, which includes tailored research on the local immigrant population and/or technical assistance in the creation of a multi-sector strategic immigrant integration plan.

New Americans in the City of Los Angeles The Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the City

December 16, 2021

New research from New American Economy underscores the crucial role immigrants in Los Angeles play as essential workers, economic contributors, and business owners. This report was prepared in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). It also features profiles of two Los Angeles residents: Lizbeth Garcia and Emanel Noreza. The report was produced as part of NAE's and Welcoming America's Gateways for Growth Challenge, which includes tailored research on the local immigrant population and/or technical assistance in the creation of a multi-sector strategic immigrant integration plan.

Latinx and Asian Immigrants Across California Regions have Different Experiences with Law and Immigration Enforcement

November 8, 2021

Latinx and Asian immigrants, California's two largest immigrant groups, face barriers to health care and experience worse health outcomes compared to U.S.-born Californians. This is in part due in part to restrictive immigration policies that permit local law enforcement (e.g., police, sheriffs) to collaborate with immigration enforcement authorities in the surveillance, policing, and deportation of noncitizens.Authors used data from the Research on Immigrant Health and State Policy Study (RIGHTS) to examine Latinx and Asian immigrants' experiences with local law and federal immigration enforcement policies and practices in three California regions, Bay Area (n=305), Los Angeles and Southern California (n=989), and the San Joaquin Valley (n=141). The survey is a follow-up to the 2018 and 2019 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). Respondents were asked if they had ever experienced any of six different encounters with surveillance, policing, or deportation by law enforcement, including local police, sheriffs, or immigration enforcement authorities.

Latinx and Asian Immigrants Have Negative Perceptions of the Immigrant Experience in California

November 8, 2021

Evidence indicates that there are disparities in immigrants' access to health care and health status compared to U.S.-born residents, in part due to immigration policies that determine access to public benefits or shape lives. This fact sheet examines data from the Research on Immigrant Health and State Policy Study (RIGHTS) on the perceptions of Latinx and Asian immigrants in California. RIGHTS is a follow-up survey of the 2018 and 2019 California Health Interview Surveys (CHIS). Respondents reported their perceptions of immigrants' experiences at the workplace, accessing health care, encountering law or immigration enforcement, and using public benefits.

Three in 10 Adults in California Immigrant Families with Low Incomes Avoided Safety Net Programs in 2020

July 29, 2021

Many immigrant families have avoided safety net and pandemic relief programs in recent years over concerns that their participation would have adverse immigration consequences. These chilling effects on program participation occurred in the context of a restrictive immigration policy environment under the Trump administration, including the expansion of the "public charge" rule. Though the Biden administration has reverted to prior guidance on the public charge rule and reversed many other immigration policy changes, chilling effects may continue to deter adults in immigrant families from seeking safety net supports for which they or their children are eligible.This study draws on Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey data collected in December 2020 and interviews conducted with adults in immigrant families and people who work at organizations that connect immigrant families to health, nutrition, and other support programs in California. The interviews were conducted between March and May 2021, in the early months of the Biden administration, offering unique insights as policy priorities were shifting.