Local Nonprofits Respond to Immigrant and Refugee Needs
Back in July, GTCF issued three responsive grants to provide immediate resources for legal services and ongoing individual supports for local immigrants. Tacoma Community House, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, and the City of Tacoma Deportation Defense Fund, which has contracted with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to act as a service provider, all received grants.
Over the past few months each of these organizations have had to be nimble and respond to rapid changes in the needs of the immigrant and refugee communities they serve. Below is a brief overview of each organization’s recent work and opportunities for local individuals and organizations to get involved.
Tacoma Community House
Demand for Tacoma Community House’s (TCH) programs and services for immigrants and refugees is greater now than it has been in many years. TCH’s Immigration program alone served a record number of individuals last year – 1,839.
In recent months, TCF has been more active in advocating for immigration and refugee supports as well as policies toward understanding and unity. They have seen an increase in volunteerism, with many individuals stepping forward to contribute their time.
This summer, TCH launched their new CHEER (Childhood Early Education and Resource) program. CHEER provides an opportunity for TCH clients to graduate from a certificated program fully prepared for a career in childcare and the ability to start their own childcare business. In 2019, TCH will open the doors to a new facility which will allow them to serve twice as many individuals and families. TCH has also identified a site location in Salishan on the Eastside as a location to help offer English classes to immigrants and refugees in the Eastside community.
Tacoma Community House has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities including Talk Time, Read2Me, and English Tutoring. To find out more about volunteer opportunities at TCH, click here.
Colectiva Legal del Pueblo
As a “low-bono” legal service provider, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo is uniquely positioned to provide low cost legal services to immigrant clients who do not qualify for pro-bono services from other organizations but still cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Over the past few months they have increased supports in Tacoma, taking on 25-30 new cases of individuals currently detained in the Northwest Detention Center.
Colectiva Legal has expanded its community organizing work as well. They have hosted free DACA clinics for DREAMers and several Preparedness clinics aimed at helping families prepare for who would take care of their children and how they would reunite in the case of separation.
In January, Colectiva Legal also plans to launch a new program called Coopertiva de Vida, which utilizes art and culture as a way to heal. With all of Colectiva Legal’s clinics and programs, the goal is always to train up new emerging leaders who can take the resources and materials back to their communities and share them with others.
Colectiva del Pueblo welcomes volunteers who are willing to help host clinics or workshops. They also have need of individuals willing to provide translations support or help perform a variety of office projects as well. To find out more about connecting with Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, you can contact their Director of Community Engagement
City of Tacoma Deportation Defense Fund & Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
The City of Tacoma Deportation Defense fund was established in October 2017 with an initial allocation of $50,000. Since then the fund has increased to nearly $60,000 thanks to donations from various organizations and individuals. The City is currently working on a contract with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to provide services which will be supported by the fund. Individuals and organizations can donate to the City of Tacoma Deportation Defense Fund here.
Over the summer, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) provided direct legal representation to numerous families in the Pierce County area. More than 200 new immigrants were brought from Texas to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma as a result of the Zero Tolerance Policy. Many of those individuals had never been to Tacoma and had no support system here. Fifty-six of those individuals were parents who had been separated from their children.
Thanks to an influx of support from numerous organizations, NWIRP was able to provide staff to perform intake assessments for all of the newly-detained individuals, helping them assess their options and determine what avenues of assistance they could provide. Prioritizing parents who had been separated from children, they were able to get more than 20 released and reunited with their children while they wait for their asylum claims to be reviewed.
In addition to these rapid response efforts, NWIRP continues to provide citizenship and naturalizations services, support for obtaining family visas, helping youth who have been abused apply for special legal status and providing education for folks who are detained.
NWIRP is always seeking volunteer attorneys who are willing to provide pro-bono legal support. They are also in need of translators and interpreters from all over the world. More information for how to support or volunteer with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is available here.
The City of Tacoma and many local and regional nonprofits have services in place to provide help and legal representation for immigrants and refugees. Organizations in GTCF’s nonprofit database that provide services for immigrants and refugees include: Tacoma Community House, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest, Korean Women’s Association, Centro Latino, Associated Ministries, HopeSparks, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Metropolitan Development Council, Tacoma Rainbow Center, YWCA Pierce County, College Success Foundation – Tacoma, Financial Beginnings Washington, Institute for Community Leadership, Tacoma Literacy Council, True Blessing, and Catherine Place.