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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Direct Cash Transfer as a Vehicle for Speed, Inclusivity, and Equity

August 24, 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropic entities across the US embraced giving directly—transferring cash to people—as an effective and efficient means of providing relief to those hit hard by the sudden economic and health emergency. Since the onset of the pandemic and in partnership with donors, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has facilitated the administration of approximately $26 million in funds, distributed in increments of $50 to $2,500 to approximately 60,000 residents across the Greater Washington, DC, region. This report describes the goals, strategies, and short-term achievements of the foundation and its partners in developing and implementing cash transfer strategies at the height of the pandemic. Closer examination of the foundation's role provides insight for private donors, government agencies, and nonprofits into how partnership with local philanthropy can help them deliver a speedy and equitable response to populations hit hardest by a crisis.

Citizen Children with Noncitizen Parents Experienced Health Insurance Coverage Losses between 2016 and 2019

August 12, 2021

Uninsurance among citizen children with any noncitizen parents rose from 6.0 to 8.0 percent between 2016 and 2019. This increase reversed much of the coverage gains they had experienced between 2013 and 2016 and was larger than that for citizen children with only citizen parents. The Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program participation rate among eligible citizen children with noncitizen parents also fell from 93.1 to 90.8 percent between 2016 and 2019, likely contributing to these children's increase in uninsurance. These changes widened coverage gaps for citizen children with noncitizen parents relative to those with only citizen parents. They also align with findings that the proposed expansion of the "public charge" rule to include use of noncash benefits in applications for lawful permanent residence and other federal immigration policy shifts beginning in 2017 deterred some immigrant families from using public programs for fear of immigration-related consequences.

Children

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.

How Might Restricting Immigration Affect Social Security’s Finances?

December 1, 2017

Most economists agree that immigration boosts productivity, raises the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and prevents labor shortages. In 2016, one in six workers in the United States was an immigrant. These immigrant workers finance a major share of Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) payroll taxes that fund Social Security. The restrictionist Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act proposed in 2017 would halve the number of green cards granted yearly and change the criteria for awarding them, moving from a largely family-based system to an employment-based one. The bill aims to raise wages for American workers and promote economic growth. In How Might Restricting Immigration Affect Social Security's Finances, the Urban Institute analyzes the proposed bill and concludes that the RAISE Act would shrink the number of workers by two million workers by 2030 and 8 million by 2070. As a result, it would weaken Social Security finances by reducing OASDI payroll tax revenues. Over a 75-year period, the RAISE Act would increase Social Security's unfunded obligations from $11.6 trillion to $13.1 trillion. Additional analysis finds that restricting immigration would reduce GDP and have only marginal impact on American wages (no more than 0.16 to 0.23 percent). The authors warn that policymakers should reconsider supporting legislation such as the RAISE Act as it would exacerbate Social Security's financial problems and do little to improve the wages of the U.S.-born. 

The Economic Impact of Naturalization on Immigrants and Cities

December 9, 2015

Using American Community Survey data for 21 cities, we find that if the immigrants who are eligible for naturalization became citizens, their earnings would increase 8.9 percent, and combined earnings for the 21 cities would increase $5.7 billion. Federal, state, and city tax revenue would increase $2.0 billion. Expenditures in government benefits would decline $34 million in New York City and increase $4 million in San Francisco. With an additional $789 million in taxes for New York City and $90 million for San Francisco, the net fiscal impact of naturalization on these two cities is overwhelmingly positive.