Immigrant Integration Fund
The San Francisco Foundation’s Immigrant Integration Fund promotes the full integration and incorporation of immigrants in the civic and economic life of our region’s neighborhoods and communities. The Immigrant Integration Fund aims to ensure that all Bay Area residents have civic, economic, and educational opportunities, as well as access to health and human services. The Fund supports legal services, citizenship, advocacy, and civic engagement programs that serve the Bay Area’s diverse immigrant community.
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California remains the leading destination for immigrants to the United States, with an immigrant population that now constitutes more than 27 percent of all residents. Immigrants are deeply woven into the fabric of the Bay Area. According to the 2010-2012 American Community Survey, more than 2.1 million immigrants or nearly one in three Bay Area residents are immigrants, a figure that spikes to 43% when including the children of immigrants. Beyond mere numbers, however, immigrants are our friends, families, neighbors and co-workers. They enrich the economic and cultural vitality of the state and region.
Not surprisingly, immigrants comprise more than 37% of the labor force in the Bay Area. They contribute 36% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product, or over 39 billion, accounting for a substantial share of the region’s economic output. Despite their contributions, immigrants, especially those who lack legal status, have faced unique barriers to basic services, civic participation, and economic opportunity. Many members of families with mixed legal status have lived in fear that they or other family members will be detained or deported if they seek healthcare, social services, or public assistance.
The Obama Administration’s November 2014 executive order presents a historic shift in immigration policy. It offers temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to qualified undocumented residents, expands eligibility for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and creates additional visa options for immigrant entrepreneurs, high-skilled workers, and students in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It also refocuses enforcement priorities to serious felonies and crimes, dismantles the Secure Communities program that required ICE holds on arrested individuals, and facilitates visa processing for certain spouses of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. The order makes relief available to approximately half of the 11 million undocumented residents in the nation. As such, the order is a first step, but still leaves millions of individuals behind. How these measures are implemented, who benefits from them, and who does not, are important questions. Moreover, the President’s executive order contains only temporary measures. Thus, continued advocacy for the Congressional enactment of more inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship remains an important priority for funding in the coming year.
Goal and Objectives
Goal: The Immigrant Integration Fund seeks to promote the full integration and incorporation of immigrants in the civic and economic life of our region’s neighborhoods and communities. We plan to meet this goal by focusing on the following funding objectives:
Objective One: Strengthen the legal services infrastructure and access to legal services, including administrative relief, deportation defense, naturalization, and citizenship services for low-income immigrants and refugees.
Access to affordable immigration legal services provided by nonprofit organizations can enable immigrants to obtain legal status that can lead to better jobs, reunification with family members, access to quality healthcare, increased educational opportunities for children and adults, and full participation in the civic life of their communities. While gaining permanent residency status brings a certain level of economic and family stability, naturalization strengthens immigrants’ ties to their communities, increases their earnings and raises their tax contributions. Naturalization also allows newcomers to fully participate in and contribute to democratic and civil society. We recognize the immediate need to increase legal and citizenship services for low-income immigrants, while building the infrastructure for large scale immigration remedies for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Strategies for Objective One:
- Support nonprofit immigration service providers to deliver high quality, free or low-cost immigration legal advice, representation, and citizenship application assistance.
- Expand the number of organizations with Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recognition and accredited staff thus expanding high quality legal services.
- Support collaborative efforts among providers that expand the provision of immigration legal and citizenship services, and create information sharing and learning opportunities.
- Support nonprofit organizations providing deportation defense, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied children.
Objective Two: Support civic engagement and policy reforms that will increase the economic security and active citizenship of immigrant communities.
California remains the leading destination for immigrants to the United States. The state’s immigrant population exceeds 10 million residents. These new Californians – including naturalized citizens, refugees, legal permanent residents, undocumented residents, and the children of immigrants – will significantly influence policy decisions on issues of concern to all Californians. These policies include health and human services, public education, affordable housing, workforce development, taxation reform, and the state budget. Funding civic engagement opportunities for immigrants, such as organizing, nonpartisan voter education, and policy advocacy will not only benefit the newcomer community but will also address economic and political inequities impacting other low-income communities and communities of color.
Strategies for Objective Two:
- Support community and immigrant-led organizing, policy advocacy, and coalition building that generate support for federal immigration reform as well as state and local policies that promote immigrant integration. Examples of policy campaigns could include driver’s license and Trust Act implementation, efforts to curb racial profiling, expansion of language and healthcare access, and reform of local law enforcement and deportation practices.
- Support immigrant civic engagement efforts, including nonpartisan voter programs that amplify newcomer voices on critical issues such as health, education, civil rights, environmental policy and workforce development.
- Support immigrant leadership development and youth organizing efforts that strengthen civic engagement and policy advocacy, and collaboration between immigrants and other low-income communities and communities of color.
For more information about the Immigrant Integration Fund Program at The San Francisco Foundation, please contact us at 415.733.8500.