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Standing Up for Our Nation of Immigrants

From the launch of his presidential campaign in 2015, President Trump made it clear that he was committed to changing America. For him, consistently and relentlessly, that has meant doing everything possible to demonize and harm immigrant families and communities, especially those that come from Latin America, Africa, and other countries with black and brown majorities. At no time in the nearly thirty-year history of Hispanic Federation, has the federal government been more hostile to immigrants than it is now.

Our response to these attacks on immigrants over the last seven months has been a combination of legislative advocacy, direct services and public consciousness-raising. Partnering with our member agencies and allies across the United States, Hispanic Federation has provided ESOL classes, legal assistance and representation, know your rights trainings for immigrants, scholarships for undocumented students, clothing donations to unaccompanied minors, bond payments for detained immigrant parents, televised informational phone banks, advocacy, public education and communication in relation to work place raids.

Over the first half of 2018, Hispanic Federation’s immigrant support programs have provided legal counsel to over 100 DACA recipients and unaccompanied minors, scholarships for undocumented college students, and submitted more than three hundred citizenship application on behalf of eligible immigrants. Together with our work providing civics and ESOL classes and direct relief and support to hundreds of immigrants, the organization has been tackling virtually every aspect of the current immigration crisis.

Nevertheless, one of Hispanic Federation’s strengths lies in its ability to leverage and amplify the expertise of its affiliated nonprofits and organizational allies. This is especially the case when it comes to raising awareness of the administration’s attacks on immigrants. That’s the purpose behind one of this year’s most exciting projects, the Latino Immigrant Rapid Response Initiative or LIRRI. Funded by the New York Community Trust, LIRRI is a coalition of 15 immigrant-serving agencies that engage in advocacy, public education, and communications to protect immigrant rights. Already the coalition, led by Hispanic Federation in conjunction with LatinoJustice PRLDF and New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), has been active in confronting ICE raids in our communities. NICE developed a strong, community-based defensive sub-group to respond to ICE raids and other such attacks in Latino working communities. By convening a subgroup of community-based organizations who have identified leads for each borough, the Coalition strengthened the lines of communication established in each county; developed and easily disseminated the most up-to-date targeted and appropriate materials; and took local action to defend community members and communities.

“Given the scope of the attacks on immigrants, we know we can’t do this work by ourselves,” said Stephanie Gomez, HF’s Director of Immigration Services. “Having partners working with us on these issues is invaluable because it leverages resources and expertise at a time when we are facing unprecedented attacks. We know that we will have to do more of this work in the remainder of the year and beyond because the White House has signaled that targeting immigrants is their top priority.” But we have been fighting back. Resisting. Together.