These 8 Nonprofits Are Defending Immigrants' Rights
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
- “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty
America is a nation of immigrants. Over 40 million people living in the United States were born in other countries. Native Americans comprise just 1% of the U.S. population.
Often fleeing adverse circumstances and in pursuit of a better life for their families, immigrants face severe challenges upon arriving in America. Beyond integrating with a new language, culture, and home, the schizophrenic maze of state and federal laws makes it difficult to get access to education, healthcare, housing, transportation, legal services, and fair employment.
First-generation immigrants and their children are among the most vulnerable people in our society, often exploited and discriminated against in unseen ways. Today's increasingly harsh political landscape is striking fear in the heart of these immigrant communities, calling into question even the most basic assumptions about livelihood and safety.
The following nonprofit organizations are defending immigrants' legal and human rights, extending a well-deserved sense of compassion, respect, and belonging. We invite you to join us in supporting these organizations - as well as similar ones around the world - in this critical time of need.
American Civil Liberties Union (Northern California)
“Using targeted impact litigation, advocacy, and public outreach, the ACLU protects the rights and liberties of immigrants. For more than 25 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of almost every major legal struggle on behalf of immigrants’ rights, focusing on challenging laws that deny immigrants access to the courts, impose indefinite and mandatory detention, and discriminate on the basis of nationality.” - Immigrants' Rights
“Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.
At NILC, we believe that all people who live in the U.S.—regardless of their race, gender, immigration and/or economic status—should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Over the years, we’ve been at the forefront of many of the country’s greatest challenges when it comes to immigration issues, and play a major leadership role in addressing the real-life impact of polices that affect the ability of low-income immigrants to prosper and thrive.”
“The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.
The world’s more than 60 million displaced people, the highest number ever recorded, require more than 'aid as usual.' Their growing and increasingly complex needs mandate a transformation — a creative rethinking — in the global humanitarian response. The International Rescue Committee has taken on this challenge.”
“SIREN’s mission is to empower low-income immigrants and refugees in Silicon Valley through community education and organizing, leadership development, policy advocacy and naturalization services. We believe that all people regardless of legal status or nationality are entitled to essential services, human dignity, basic rights and protections, and access to full participation in society.”
“Founded in 1969, Centro Legal de la Raza is a comprehensive legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of immigrant, low-income, and Latino communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy. By combining quality legal services with know-your-rights education and youth development, Centro Legal promotes access to justice for thousands of individuals and families each year throughout Northern and Central California.”
East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC)
“The East Bay Community Law Center was founded in 1988 by law students from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. The student founders were motivated by the intersection of significant trends in legal services and legal education. EBCLC's mission is to promote justice and build a community that is more healthy, secure, productive and hopeful by providing:
- legal services and policy advocacy that are responsive to the needs of low-income communities, and
- law training that prepares future attorneys to be skilled and principled advocates that are committed to finding innovative solutions to the cause and conditions of poverty.”
International Refugee Assistance Project (Urban Justice Center)
“The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid and systemic policy advocacy, IRAP serves the world's most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.”
“20 million people worldwide have left their homes to seek safety from war, conflict and persecution. On average, these refugees spend nearly 20 years housed in a closed refugee camp or left on the margins of society.
Many countries of asylum do not recognize the human rights of refugees – who are typically not allowed to work, send their kids to school, or access local health care. They often can’t walk down the street without fear of arrest, detention and deportation.
Asylum Access was founded to change this.
Globally, we challenge barriers that keep refugees from rebuilding their lives. We do this through personalized legal assistance and by helping refugee communities organize to assert their human rights. We also challenge governments and the UN to develop and promote lasting solutions, shifting the focus from emergency aid to approaches that restore power and agency to refugee men and women.”
It's a tragic irony that America is deporting immigrants and building walls while simultaneously evicting Native Americans at Standing Rock, and targeting Muslims and religious minorities during the haunting 75th anniversary of Japanese American internment camps. How will our children and grandchildren look back on these current events?
Nonprofits like the ones listed above offer positive alternatives to fear-driven policies and xenophobia. Let's channel our collective energy and gifts into organizations taking practical actions in pursuit of freedom, justice, peace, and universal human rights.