Opportunities Await Philanthropic Sector In Wake of Anti-Migrant Policy Ruling

By Diana Campoamor Hispanics in Philanthropy sadly laments the tied vote on the U.S. Supreme Court that indefinitely blocks President Barack Obama’s immigration reform plan and leaves more than 4 million immigrants in legal limbo, unable to obtain authorization to live and work in this, their country of choice. Many of the affected migrants came to the United States to provide a safe, stable life for their children. They raised families of U.S. citizens, but have lived in the shadows of this great democracy, sometimes being exploited by those who know they lack legal protections. They represent more than a third of approximately 11 million foreign-born adults and children who are believed to lack authorization to be in the United States. The Supreme Court’s one-line decision saying that a lower court ruling, in the case filed by Texas and 25 other states, “is affirmed by an equally divided court” blocks implementation of the president’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. The ruling does not affect the original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has given temporary legal status and the right to study and work in the United States to about 2 million eligible and potentially eligible people under the age of 25, according to a three-year study by the Migration Policy Institute. Most arrived as children in the U.S. The ruling is a reminder that America’s promise is not only to welcome those who want to contribute to our society, but to provide protections and vital services – whether health care, education, and the right to be free from persecution – for those less fortunate. It increases the challenge for our policymakers and philanthropic leaders to level the playing field for everyone. It is still very important to address the root causes of unauthorized immigration by strengthening the rule of law and fostering job creation and economic development in Latin America. But strategic funding opportunities are needed now more than ever to help those who have built their lives in the United States and for those families fleeing north, out of desperation south of the border. The Latino-led and Latino-serving nonprofits, especially those along the U.S.-Mexico border, need strengthening through capacity building that equips them with fundraising, communications and partnering skills to better serve this population. The executive action was intended to encourage millions to transition into the U.S. mainstream and to mitigate the process’ human cost. Step by step — before, during and after the transition — philanthropy can help fill in the gaps left by federal programs and deal with the needs of these friends and neighbors, community members and future workforce and political leaders. By funding capacity-building programs so more may tap into the services that will get them up each rung of the ladder toward incorporation into the American mainstream, philanthropy will help prevent greater costs to society. The Supreme Court’s tied ruling reminds us all that their needs won’t wait, even as these immigrants continue in limbo. ________________________________________________________ Diana Campoamor is the President of Hispanics in Philanthropy, a transnational network of grantmakers committed to empower Latino communities across the Americas. Its mission is to strengthen Latino leadership, voice, and equity.