Thursday, June 20, 2024

Want to help migrants and refugees in L.A. and California? Here are organizations you can support

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t exactly give California a heads-up before moving 42 migrants, including eight children, from his state to Los Angeles this week.

Nevertheless, when the migrants arrived at Union Station, they found organizations ready to help them, including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. Jorge-Mario Cabrera, the coalition’s director of communications, was a partner in the city’s activated Emergency Operations Center that helped coordinate the response.

Organizations throughout the city and county of Los Angeles have plenty of experience aiding displaced or newly arrived refugees and immigrants. Often a family’s first point of contact and constant support system, these groups provide such services as legal aid, vocational training, financial aid and housing assistance.

These organizations are always looking for help from the public to continue providing services.

Here is a list of Los Angeles and California-based organizations that need donations and volunteers.

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights works to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees, offering immigration legal services at a low cost. Its programs include legal services for students at 14 community colleges and four California State University campuses, support for families facing deportation, legal assistance for victims of crime, and support for people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The coalition accepts support through one-time or recurring financial donations. You can also financially support a specific program, such as the Wise Up! Scholarship Fund, which advances educational opportunities for underserved immigrant youths, particularly students who are in the country without authorization.

Immigrant Defenders Law Center

The Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Southern California’s largest deportation defense nonprofit, offers full-scale deportation defense, legal representation, legal education and connections to social services to approximately 3,000 detained or non-detained adults and children annually.

You can support the center by providing in-kind donations, such as gift cards to Walmart or Target, school supplies, packaged snacks, backpacks and transportation cards. The nonprofit is also accepting monetary donations and volunteers.

Pars Equality Center

The Pars Equality Center delivers social and immigration services in Farsi and Dari in Southern California. Pars’ case managers connect families to community resources, communicating with partner agencies to ensure that clients have the support and referrals they need to navigate social, medical and government systems in this country.

Case managers make referrals to healthcare, mental health counseling, health screenings and low-cost clinics. They also help clients locate housing, schedule medical appointments, fill out CalFresh applications, enroll in schools and accomplish other tasks.

You can support Pars’ work by making a financial donation to the organization in general or one of its specific programs, such as those that pay for free legal representation, scholarships, vocational training and computer classes.

It’s also accepting volunteers who can help provide English language tutoring and computer training, visit isolated seniors and assist with immigration legal services.

Miry’s List

Miry’s List is a Los Angeles-based organization that supports newly arrived refugee families with temporary housing, emergency supplies and rides to appointments. When family members go to their first home, apartment or motel room, Miry’s List staff will meet them and create a list of necessary supplies that is then compiled into an online wishlist.

You can support Miry’s List by donating a wishlist item, becoming a volunteer or making a monetary donation. Volunteer opportunities include a wishlist maker, translators (the highest need is for people who speak Arabic, Pashto and Dari), and a welcome helper who aids in sorting, packing and distributing supplies by mail to new arrivals.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee, which has offices in Northern California, Los Angeles and San Diego, provides humanitarian aid and relief the moment refugees arrive at the airport. Committee case workers and volunteers welcome the individuals or families and assist with their transition by ensuring they have a furnished home; help with rent; access to healthcare, affordable food, English language classes and education for the children; community support; and legal services to gain legal residency and citizenship.

In addition to supporting refugees in the area, the organization also works with asylees, special immigrant visa holders and survivors of human trafficking.

You can help the International Rescue Committee by making a monetary donation or purchasing an item off its Target or Amazon wishlists. You can also put together a box of necessary items, such as a welcome kit (body wash, deodorant, towels and toothbrush), new baby kit (car seat, diaper cream and baby lotion) and a back-to-school kit (backpack, pencils and a notebook). For the full list of items and kit options, look at the organization’s Los Angeles-specific website.

International Institute of Los Angeles

The International Institute of Los Angeles provides comprehensive services to newly resettled individuals and families, including temporary housing, health screenings, community orientations and assistance finding employment and child care. It’s currently coordinating the arrival and resettlement of Afghan refugees in Southern California.

The organization has historically been funded through government contracts; however, the increase in demand pushed the group to call on private support from the community.

You can help by making a financial donation or signing up to be a volunteer; the organization is in need of legal professionals, Dari and Pashto interpreters and translators, and high school-age volunteers. Teenage volunteers can join a group of youth that supports refugee teens build and maintain personal connections while they transition to this new chapter of their lives.

Newcomers Access Center

The Newcomers Access Center empowers refugees and immigrant families in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties to become independent by offering services such as health and wellness workshops, translation, employment opportunities, driving instruction and more.

There are a variety of ways to support the organization’s work, such as making a financial contribution, donating a used vehicle or donating used items.

The center has partnered with the ACTS Thrift Store at 232 E. Foothill Blvd. in Pomona to accept gently used items that will be put on the shelves for refugees to purchase. Put all your donated items into a box with a printed NAC/ACTS flier taped to it. When the store receives the donation, it gives the center credit, and the center gives vouchers to refugee and immigrant families so they can purchase the items with the vouchers.

Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service

The Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that offers refugees resettlement assistance, employment placement and immigration legal aid, as well as referrals to housing, education and health screening resources. It’s a program of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the Southern California-based affiliate of Episcopal Migration Ministries.

To assist in meeting refugees’ basic needs, including household and personal supplies, the nonprofit welcomes financial contributions via a secure portal on its website. It’s also seeking leads to available housing for individuals or families.

Catholic Charities of Los Angeles

Catholic Charities of Los Angeles provides services to assist newly arrived immigrants in learning English, obtaining education, navigating legal matters and training for jobs that will provide at least a living wage. Most clients seeking immigration services are coming from Afghanistan, Central America, Iran, Iraq, Mexico and Syria.

It offers programs such as refugee resettlement, immigration services, immigrant rights advocacy and a temporary skilled worker center.

You can support these programs and the Catholic Charities clients by giving a financial donation that goes toward hygiene and comfort kits, case management, groceries, rental assistance and more.

The organization is also accepting applications for volunteers. Volunteers deliver food to the homebound elderly, tutor children, assist the food pantries or answer phones.

Central American Resource Center of Los Angeles

The L.A.-based Central American Resource Center offers legal support for asylum seekers, unaccompanied immigrant minors and other immigrants and their families, while also supporting community-led immigrant advocacy and organizing efforts, such as the National Temporary Protection Status campaign.

Through its legal services program, the Resource Center offers no-charge consultations for most cases, including DACA and naturalization applications. The charges for consultations and follow-up services that are not free are deeply discounted in comparison with private immigration attorneys’ fees.

The organization welcomes monetary donations or volunteers to assist with such things as fundraising, English instruction, outreach and citizenship classes; for a complete list of the jobs and descriptions, visit the organization’s website.

Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay offers a resettlement program that has long focused on refugees who have experienced persecution based on their religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. The majority of refugees it works with are Afghans who served as translators or provided support services for U.S. personnel in Afghanistan.

You can support the organization by gathering your family, friends or faith group to be volunteers for a welcome team. The teams generally consist of four to eight members and are matched with a refugee family to provide support, such as driving them to appointments, assisting with their job search and helping enroll kids in school.

Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay is accepting a variety of donations, such as home items, monetary contributions, gift cards and items on the organization’s Amazon wishlist. Needed home items include small dressers, coffee tables, shoe racks, area rugs and small kitchen tables; a complete list of items can be found online.

About The Times Utility Journalism Team

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