Accessibility of Services: A warm, welcoming place has a strong infrastructure of immigrant-serving organizations.

Insights and Analyses

  • The infrastructure of immigrant-serving organizations throughout California varies. In 2016, San Francisco and Merced counties ranked highest in the number of immigrant-serving organizations per 100,000 non-citizen immigrant residents: 34 in San Francisco County and 28 in Merced County.
  • There is a need to expand healthcare coverage to all Californians. In 2013, nearly 900,000 undocumented immigrants lived in counties where they did not qualify for county healthcare programs. 
  • Research on People of Color (POC) led nonprofits throughout the U.S., with a large portion from California, reveal that since the onset of the pandemic, many organizations have shifted to creatively and rapidly respond to community needs and fulfill the gaps by inefficient policies and systems. While continuing this critical work, many organizations expressed concern about their long-term financial stability.
  • Amidst COVID-19, the California Immigrant Resilience Fund (CIRF), a public-private partnership with the state of California, was launched with the goal of raising $50 million to provide cash assistance to undocumented immigrants impacted by the pandemic. Although created in response to the pandemic, CIRF establishes the infrastructure and network throughout the state to rapidly respond to future crises.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected undocumented indigenous communities, many who work in industries impacted by closures. In response, Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO) created the Undocumented Indigenous Relief Fund, providing assistance for critical needs to families in Los Angeles. As of September 21, 2020, CIELO had distributed about $858,000 to 2,146 people.

San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (SFOCEIA) works in close collaboration with service providers to address immigrant needs.

Created in 2009 by founding Executive Director Adrienne Pon, SFOCEIA brought together several functions tied to immigrant integration: language services, immigrant rights, community safety and engagement, and census 2010. Ten years later, the department continues its policy, direct services, compliance and grant making work while partnering with a variety of city agencies and local service providers, to strategically implement programs and services in response to the changing national immigration policy landscape. OCEIA hosts a DreamSF Fellowship program that places immigrant youth at a non-profit to gain professional experience while also receiving a monthly stipend, initiated the SF Pathways to Citizenship Initiative, provides grants to immigrant-serving organizations to help with legal services, naturalization efforts, language access and other needs. OCEIA also works with Mission Asset Fund to help residents pay for immigration application fees through a collaborative lending model. According to Deputy Director of Programs, Richard Whipple, their success is based on close collaboration with immigrant-serving organizations, a dedicated staff committed to serving the city’s immigrant population, and community and legislative champions that move policy to support immigrant integration. For more information on the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, click here.

Photo credit: San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) needs to improve the care that it provides to immigrant children living with disabilities held in ORR-contracted facilities in California.

ORR is responsible for housing unaccompanied migrant children who are in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Many of these children are living with physical as well as sensory disabilities and mental health conditions. Under ORR policy, children should be placed in facilities according to their needs. As a part of Disability Rights California’s (DRC) work monitoring facilities that house and serve people with disabilities, the organization conducted on-site monitoring of nine ORR-contracted facilities throughout the state. In their assessment, DRC found that ORR does not provide adequate special education services, the agency’s services and assessments to evaluate a child’s need for services do not meet California’s standards, and children with disabilities tend to be housed in the most restrictive settings. In the report, DRC recommends a host of changes to the system, including a recommendation to ORR and other entities in charge of detention that they should “rethink the detention of children with mental health needs and other disabilities.”  To learn more about DRC’s findings and their recommendations to improve conditions for children living with disabilities under ORR’s care, read the full report here.