The recent change in administration has created a great deal of uncertainty and fear in immigrant and refugee communities. Immigration policies are likely to be changed, and programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and other programs will likely come under attack. In this new political context, it is more important than ever that immigrant serving organizations are able to build their capacity to provide quality legal services, and build the leadership of immigrant and refugee communities in advocacy efforts. PA is Ready! provides a ready-made vehicle for this urgent work. In 2017, PA is Ready! will continue to develop community education materials and coordinate regional and statewide trainings to help build the capacity of community-led grassroots organizations.
Identified needs include:
- In the face of the current uncertainty about the new administration, and what changes to immigration laws and programs might be made, communities are vulnerable to unscrupulous private service providers (both attorneys and non-attorneys) who charge exorbitant fees for “guaranteed” legal status.
- Undocumented communities are under-informed about their rights and lack information about how to advocate for family members who are facing deportation. Based on the administration’s stated agenda to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants, this will be even more crucial.
- Access to quality immigration services is severely limited in rural and suburban areas of Pennsylvania, and even in Philadelphia legal service providers have long waiting periods. This results in under-application for available forms of relief such as U-Visas, VAWA applications and family visas, as well as low naturalization application rates of Legal Permanent Residents.
- Increased advocacy and organizing by immigrant and refugee communities to defend programs such as DACA, TPS, and refugee resettlement, while also continuing to push for more just and humane immigration policies overall.
For more information, please contact Judy Kim, the statewide coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-832-0615
PA is Ready! will build on the 2016 service model by creating a collective funding pool that uses a collaborative grantmaking process led by immigrant-serving organizations to fund proposals focused on:
- Providing access to legal services through a collaborative model to address ongoing need, including: comprehensive legal screenings, application assistance, ITIN/financial literacy, and deportation defense.
- Building organizational capacity and community leadership through peer-to-peer training and partnerships so that immigrant and refugee communities are equipped to quickly respond to the changing political landscape and policy proposals in 2017 and beyond.
All projects are expected to fulfill the established goals of PA is Ready!, which are to:
- Build statewide capacity to provide immigration assistance, including: comprehensive legal screenings, citizenship applications, deportation defense packets, and potentially DACA 2012 renewals and applications
- Prevent the exploitation of immigrants through immigration service (or “notario”) fraud
- Build immigrant leadership and organizing capacity to engage in local, state, and federal immigrant rights campaigns
- Reach the diverse immigrant communities in Pennsylvania
PA is Ready! Background
In September 2014, PICC began convening member and partner organizations in anticipation of President Obama enacting an Executive Order creating new forms of administrative relief for undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. which was expected to protect almost 5 million undocumented immigrants. These organizations came together and created PA is Ready! as a vehicle for providing quality, high-volume services across Pennsylvania. Members developed a service model that would ensure that Pennsylvania immigrant community members had access to the information and assistance they needed to apply for the both existing and anticipated forms of relief, and began raising funds to support collaborative projects utilizing the service model.
Despite the Supreme Court’s tie vote in June 2016 that halted the implementation of new forms of administrative relief, the PA is Ready! coalition pressed forward in recognition of the many already unmet needs of immigrant communities across the Commonwealth. In 2016 PA is Ready! distributed over $200,000 in subgrants to 20 community based groups and legal services providers.