California nonprofits are asking us for practical help as we continue to focus on reactions and responses to this time of extraordinary political transition. In particular, many nonprofits are realizing that although they aren't immigration organizations, there are many immigrants among their service population, whether families of children with disabilities, dance students, or senior centers.
The recent Trump Administration Executive Orders on immigration, deportation and travel have caused sincere confusion and concern in our communities. As nonprofits we are uniquely positioned to provide help, resources, and leadership. Below we look at three issues: how to help staff and friends prepare emergency plans for themselves and their families, how to provide "know your rights" information to give to them, and how one nonprofit turned their office into sanctuary space.
• Emergency plans: Encourage staff and clients to prepare emergency plans for themselves and their families. This week when immigration officers arrested a man in his car with his 12-year-old daughter
, many nonprofits wanted to help. This print-friendly guide
from the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation helps immigrants plan to protect their children from the trauma of a possible separation.
• Know your rights: "If you are stopped by immigration or the police..." The National Immigration Law Center provides a comprehensive list of every person’s basic rights
in multiple languages, including a small know-your-rights card to print and give to staff and clients to carry in their wallets. Don't wait for constituents to ask you for help. Give them this list of resources for legal help
for immigrants in California from Immigration Law Help.
• Thinking about creating sanctuary space in your nonprofit? We caution you not to take this step without thorough discussion with your staff and board and assistance from an attorney. Harboring someone from law enforcement can be a felony; be sure you are working with qualified attorneys and know your risks.
Here's how one California nonprofit -- itself a legal support organization -- chose to do so:
"We have two spaces in our office that are marked 'Private: Staff Only’ and note that others can enter only when accompanied by staff. We also have a policy that law enforcement cannot enter the premises without either a warrant or the permission of the executive director. Everyone is trained in how to respond appropriately if immigration or the police come to the door, and how to respond to clients and visitors asking for help and/or sanctuary."
During this time of transition and uncertainty, we will continue to provide updates and ideas on the issues that affect California nonprofits and the communities we serve. Let us know what you think -- and what you need.
See the first two related articles in this series here: "Towards a Strategic Stance Under the Trump Administration
" and "Part 2: What Now?
"UPDATE: For another helpful resource, please see the Safe Place Policy instituted by the Village Community Resource Center, provided to us by Kirsten Rigsby, Executive Director of VCRC, and Solomon Belette, Board President and Director of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at John F. Kennedy University.