Cambridge Legal Defense Fund

$194,435 of $500,000 goal

Raised by 283 people in 11 months
Created March 2, 2018
Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants

 The Need

Many immigrant families, children and workers in our community are caught up in a humanitarian crisis that could tear families apart, deport DREAMers from the only home they have ever known, and expose asylum seekers to the persecution and abuse they faced in their home countries. Help us help our most vulnerable neighbors with a tax-deductible contribution to the Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants .

One in four immigrants in America are undocumented. Pew Research Center data states 210,000 undocumented residents in Massachusetts, of which over 180,000 are in Cambridge, Boston and surrounding communities. 

 In Massachusetts, there are approximately 19,000 students eligible for DACA status , over 12,000 are workers with Temporary Protective Status , thousands more are Asylum Seekers. While there is no city-specific data on the numbers of undocumented immigrants in our community, proxy data for Cambridge shows 27% of the population is foreign born; 40% of children have at least one foreign born parent; and approximately 25% of high school students and over 100 Harvard students have DACA status.

 Currently, only 37% of all immigrants and 14% of detained immigrants go to court accompanied with a lawyer. Deportation proceedings are considered civil matters, so lawyers are not provided by the court. Those with legal representation have a five times higher chance of achieving a favorable outcome.

The Fund

The Cambridge Community Foundation, working in partnership with Mayor Marc C. McGovern, has an ambitious goal of raising $500,000 to help immigrants get the legal services they need to stay, legally, in our country. Your donation will support grants that will be distributed to local legal assistance nonprofits to help:

--Support young adults previously protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who are now at risk of deportation;

--Prioritize cases involving asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors/juveniles, and other highly vulnerable persons including victims of trafficking, sexual, and/or domestic violence;

--Provide family legal services to ensure protection for children left behind.

The Dollars

The visa process for illegal and legal immigrants can be complex and confusing. Local legal assistance nonprofits provide invaluable information and support, and can help with costs associated with the process:

--$200 medical exam: Immigration proceedings require medical examinations performed by a civil surgeon who has been designated by USCIS. This is not paid by the court.

--$465 DACA fee: The fee covers first time and renewal applicants of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The cost of the application has been one of the major barriers to the DACA program.

--Translation costs: Immigrants may need translation services, and pro-bono attorneys don’t necessarily provide them.

--$6,000 for Asylum: It costs approximately $5,000 to $6,000 in attorney fees for a single client to get through the Asylum process.

--Pro-bono attorneys carry a caseload of 150, and while they offer their services for free, their time on cases requires human capital.

--The Asylum process requires 70 to 120 hours of legal work.

--To help one youth gain special immigrant juvenile status requires 50 to 70 hours of legal work.

--To help one victim of trafficking requires 40 to 80 hours of legal work.

Our $500,000 goal means four non-profit legal assistance organizations can add another full-time attorney to their staff to provide legal representation for 400 to 500 people; pay for medical exams and ensure 200 applicants can pay for DACA application fees or post bail.

The People

While names have been changed to protect privacy, these are just a few real stories of real people in our community who are currently navigating this process with legal assistance.

Ama, a young woman from East Africa, who suffered abuse at home, was told at the age of 13 that she had to marry a man, 20 years her senior. She fled to the United States and applied for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, a form of legal relief available to child survivors of abuse, abandonment or neglect. 

Maria fled Honduras with three young daughters to escape the abuse of her husband as well as gang violence. With just a few personal items and $27 in cash, they crossed through Guatemala, then into Mexico, where they were abducted by two Zetas who beat Maria for two weeks and demanded thousands of dollars for their release. Maria and her girls escaped, reached the U.S. and are now seeking Asylum protection so she can gain a work permit and build a new life.

Sandra was violently attacked at work but too afraid to talk to the police for fear of deportation and the risk of leaving her young daughter, a U.S. citizen, behind. Even though she had worked in the area for more than 10 years, she had no path to obtain legal permanent residence. Then came the attack, which resulted in panic attacks and depression and ultimately led her to a legal aid organization to get help. Sandra is filing for a U Visa, a protection to victims of crime who cooperate with law enforcement.

David, a graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and the director of the Boys and Girls Club in Somerville wasn't a legal resident because he was brought to the United States at a young age. David realized how vulnerable he was when he was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in New York state because he didn't have his citizenship papers. Through pro-bono legal assistance in Cambridge, David, a DACA recipient, has successfully renewed his work authorization for another two years.

To Give

More dollars mean more resources for threatened immigrants.  Make your tax-deductible gift now. Please make checks payable to Cambridge Community Foundation for Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants and mail to 99 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge MA 02139 or donate online.

Click here  to learn more about the fund and need.
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At CCF, the impact of immigration policies on people in our country and our communities weighs heavily on us. To us this is a humanitarian issue. As supporters of this fund, we are sure you feel the same. As we get ready to make grants for legal capacity in the community, we are also continuing our support of local immigrants at our upcoming CCF forum “Lives in Limbo: Trauma, Healing, and the Immigrant Experience” on Monday October 29th, featuring researchers, primary care physicians, and mental health practitioners discussing the impact on the health and wellbeing of immigrant populations and we can do to support them. We really hope you can join us.

For more information and to sign up please visit: http://cambridgecf.org/ccf-forum-trauma-healing-and-the-immigrant-experience/
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Dear Friends: Thanks to your generous contributions, we are putting your dollars to work very soon in support of local, low-income immigrants needing legal aid. We have issued a Request for Proposals to local nonprofit organizations interested tapping the Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants to increase legal representation for residents and workers threatened with deportation proceedings. We will be distributing at least $150,000 in grants in early October; in the meantime our fundraising and awareness building will continue.

We couldn’t have done this without you. This grass-roots campaign has raised $150K+ from 250 people, with gifts ranging from $5 to $50,000. That to us is a wonderful expression of grassroots action to meet a tremendous need.

The immigration crisis is a humanitarian crisis and so many people have asked for more information: what’s happening now, what does it mean, and what people can do to help. Many of you attended our ‘Lives in Limbo’ CCF Forum on June 27, which addressed immigration policies and their impact and ways people could help. If you missed it, please check our website for the news and YouTube for the forum video. We’ll also be hosting a related forum this fall and will keep you posted.

Thanks again for everything you do. Every bit—large and small--will help someone in need.

With gratitude, CCF
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Dear Friends: The Cambridge Community Foundation is hosting a major forum this Wednesday, June 27 at Cambridge Public Library's Main Branch, 449 Broadway. This free event begins with a reception at 5 pm, and program at 6:15 pm. Please join us to learn more about the evolving immigration crisis, the state of young people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, immigrants seeking asylum, and children left behind. Register for this free event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lives-in-limbo-immigration-as-a-human-rights-issue-tickets-46623601447
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“THE DREAM MACHINE: the journey from undocumented to deported” with
PROFESSOR DAN-EL PADILLA PERALTA and other panelists on Friday, March 9 at 7 pm
First Parish Church, 1446 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

Princeton professor and author of “UNDOCUMENTED”, Dan-El Padilla Peralta shares the story of his own American dream. Arriving in the US from the Dominican Republic at the age of four, he lived in a NYC homeless shelter as an undocumented immigrant before eventually graduating from an Ivy league school at the top of his class.

Dan-el received his MPhil from the University of Oxford and his PhD in classics from Stanford University. In addition to his successful academic career, Padilla Peralta is an activist on immigration issues and will speak about the implications of the DACA decision not just for immigrants, but for all Americans. Do we not have a moral responsibility to stand with the undocumented in our communities? Join us for this important discussion.

Doors open at 6.30 pm.
This event is free and open to all.
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$194,435 of $500,000 goal

Raised by 283 people in 11 months
Created March 2, 2018
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