Published On: October 30th, 2018

Cambridge Community Foundation to Distribute a Quarter of a Million Dollars in Grants to Legal Defense Organizations Supporting Immigrants

October 30, 2018–Cambridge, MA

The Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) will award a total of $255,000 in grants to four nonprofits to provide more legal services for immigrant families from Cambridge and the surrounding communities who are facing detention or possible deportation.  Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC), Greater Boston Legal Services, and Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) will each receive two-year grants totaling $80,000 to help hire a new attorney or expand their capacity with existing legal staff.  In addition, the Political Asylum Immigration Representation Project, Inc. (PAIR) will receive a grant of $15,000 to reach more Cambridge-connected immigrants.

“Local families grappling with shifting immigration policies are facing urgent needs for quality legal defense,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation.  “The real problem isn’t getting immigrant families to legal resources, it’s for legal defense organizations to have the capacity to serve people when they arrive.”

“We are so thankful to our donors for playing such a critical role in expanding the capacity of these four exceptional organizations to defend immigrant families in need,” Pradhan said.

The grantees were selected through a competitive process conducted by a panel of experts, including immigration attorneys and representatives of Mayor Marc McGovern’s Office and CCF.  Award-winning grantees include legal defense organizations with a goal of increasing their capacity to provide immediate deportation defense for low-income immigrants who are on a fast-track for removal on an Order of Supervision/GPS with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and those detained by ICE that need to file motions to reopen or petition for a stay of removal with ICE. Low-income immigrants recently arrested by ICE or issued Noticed to Appear (NTA) will also be served.

According to local legal service organizations, changes in immigration policies, including DACA and Temporary Protected Status, and increased enforcement by federal agencies have resulted in a dramatic increase in the numbers of families seeking legal assistance.  “It’s a very urgent and stressful time for immigrant families; they need access to quality legal services and the brilliant thing about this grant is, because it is for two years, we will be able to protect more families involved in legal proceedings that can extend beyond a twelve-month period.  We can help bring stability to families in need,” said Ronnie Millar, executive director of Irish International Immigrant Center. “We’re extremely grateful to the Cambridge Community Foundation and its donors for their partnership in expanding our work in the City of Cambridge,” Millar added. IIIC estimates the grant, which will help cover the cost of an immigration attorney, will support legal services for more than 100 people over the course of two years.

The two-year grant will help CLSACC fund a new attorney with the Post-Detention Asylum Project to help mothers and their children coming out of detention to apply for asylum in the United States.  Most of these clients have fled their countries because of gang violence, including murder of family members or severe domestic violence.  “It’s a matter of life or death for the clients we serve and that is why we truly appreciate the assistance from the Cambridge Community Foundation, its donors, and our other funders because it is enabling us to do this very important work at this time,” said Mojdeh Rohani, executive director of CLSACC.  The organization expects to serve up to 500 immigrants and refugees each year for the next two years.

According to Jacquelynne Bowman, executive director of the Greater Boston Legal Services, the rapidly changing immigration laws, policies and procedures affecting immigrants and their families and rumors about those changes have caused some people to take action that can impact their opportunities to stay in the U.S.  “GBLS staff have had to triage Immigration matters, giving advice to people who really need a legal advocate,” said Bowman. “This two-year grant will allow us to increase our staff to provide more comprehensive representation to more people and give them a real chance to obtain justice.”  The funds will enable the Greater Boston Legal Services to increase their legal capacity for immigrants facing immediate deportation.

“The Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants is a powerful expression of our City’s core values and a wonderful grass-roots effort that emphasizes that we can do important work when we join together as a community,” said Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern.  “Through this fund and these grants, our community’s support of our immigrant neighbors will have a lasting impact on families that need help.”

The Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants was launched in March 2018 in partnership with Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern’s office.  Since that time, more than 260 residents and several foundations have donated nearly $200,000 to the fund, with gifts ranging from $5 to $50,000.  The Cambridge Community Foundation offered two-year grants to three grantees to ensure the organizations could hire attorneys to meet the need.  The CCF will continue to raise money for the fund.

Data from Pew Research indicates that in 2014, there were 210,000 undocumented residents in Massachusetts, of which over 180,000 are in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).  While it’s difficult to ascertain city specific data, proxy data for Cambridge shows 27% of the population is foreign born and 40% of children have at least one foreign born parent.  Cambridge is a sanctuary city and includes many undocumented students, workers and residents.

The Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants was seeded by the Cambridge Community Foundation and its Board of Directors with a $50,000 grant, which included $25,000 from a bequest from Cambridge resident Maurice Anderson to address urgent needs in our community and $25,000 from an anonymous donor.  In addition to individual gifts from more than 260 people, the fund has received a $50,000 gift from the Louis Foundation, a $25,000 gift from the Fish Family Foundation and major support from the Johnson Family and the Why Wait Funds of the Cambridge Community Foundation.

As the local giving platform for Cambridge, the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) supports the city’s shared prosperity, social equity and enduring cultural richness, with roots that go a century deep.  The Foundation strives to deeply connect sectors across the community, to highlight emerging and critical needs, and catalyze efforts– through advancing philanthropy, grant making, and civic engagement– to ensure resources are focused where they can make the greatest difference.


For more information contact:

Lauren Marshall
Director of Marketing and Civic Engagement
(617) 576-9966
[email protected]