These Local Immigration Groups Need Your Help

If border separations have you down, volunteering is a great way to channel that heartbreak — especially if you're cash-strapped or hungry for more involvement.

President Donald Trump may have signed an executive order to eliminate the policy of separating families crossing the border but the need to help immigrants is nowhere near gone.

Not only are those 2,300 children already separated from their families going to stay that way for the foreseeable future but immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are still navigating our schizophrenic immigration system. Deportations haven’t ended, naturalization issues haven’t ended, and neither has a need for resources to integrate into the country.

But there are plenty of ways to help meet that need in the Bay Area — if not with gracious donations, then with time spent volunteering. It’s a busy time for folks at immigration groups so an email or call to see how you can be of help before bursting in with passion.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Oakland and San Jose are home to IRC’s local offices and both have several volunteer positions available. Share the Bay Area basics with refugees, help them apply for permanent residency or citizenship, support them in their hunt for a job, teach them financial literacy, or simply help the organization with administrative duties. If you’re not sure of which position fits best, Oakland has an information session on July 11th.

La Raza Centro Legal

The Mission-based group serves low-income Spanish-speaking immigrants and takes volunteers for ongoing positions. You can help them with their cases, assert their worker’s rights, with evictions, help elderly immigrants with consumer fraud and administratively. It’s also taking undergraduate interns to help with immigration applications.

Refugee Transitions

The nonprofit agency specifically works with “high-need, low-income” refugees, asylum seekers, and newcomers in transitioning to their new communities. It has an office in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose and takes long-term volunteers to tutor immigrants either at their home, during set times after school on campus, or specifically help mothers with English or childcare. They don’t have a specific number in mind and encourage applying through its online form.

Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA)

The Latina immigrant women who make up MUA lead the fight for their own freedom through worker’s rights, affordable healthcare access, and violence against women. They also rely on volunteers to tutor them in English and support their fundraising and member support teams. Fill out their volunteer form if you can set aside a two to three hours each week for at least three months at their Oakland or San Francisco offices.

International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA)

IIBA focuses on immigration legal services, education and connecting immigrant families with civic engagement opportunities. It’s headquartered in San Francisco but has offices in the East Bay, North Bay, and Peninsula. Right now, it’s taking applications online to volunteer as translators, teachers to prepare future citizens with English language skills, a guide to take future citizens through the naturalization process, office assistants, and law school interns to help with casework.

San Francisco Coalition of Asylee, Immigrant, and Refugee Services (SF-CAIRS)

The coalition of Bay Area immigrant organizations has more than 20 agencies and a handy list of ways to help. Some listed positions include a Spanish interpreter for Newcomers Health Program, sharing American workplace traditions with Upwardly Global clients, serving as a domestic violence counselor at Asian Women’s Shelter or mentor refugees with At Home Humanitarian.

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

The group’s mission of advancing civil rights is all in the name, of course, including the rights of immigrants and refugees. It takes applications from attorneys, relying on their pro bono work, but also volunteer interpreters, administrative workers, and interns to help with communication and other developmental needs. Check out the volunteer page for more.

Of course, donations are vital to keep these organizations afloat. To also help groups specifically helping children at the border, visit the designated ActBlue page or rally at the upcoming protests.

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