Immigration in the Central Valley
The Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC) was established in February 2014 to address the complex issue of immigration in the Central Valley, to serve the immigrant families residing in this part of California and to enhance the organizational capacity in the region.
Immigrant Rights and the American Tradition of Being a Nation of Immigrants
First and foremost, immigrants are human beings. As such, they are entitled to rights and protections.
International migrants are also regarded as highly vulnerable populations, often subjected to different forms of discrimination, exclusion and even exploitation.
In the United States, California and our Central Valley, immigrants are pillars of our economy and society, contributing to the renewal of the American labor force at at time when millions of baby boomers are retiring – and domestic birth rates are insufficient to meet labor market demands. The contributions of immigrant workers and entrepreneurs helps to maintain and drive American international competitiveness.
United States immigration policies must be fair and humane, reflecting the economic reality of the present and future and upholding the tradition of America being a nation of immigrants.
The Immigrant Population in the Central Valley
Some 900,000 immigrants reside in the counties in which our regional network has a presence: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare.
In addition, the region has about half a million children with at least one immigrant parent.
To accomplish this, CVIIC’s work has been guided by a strategic plan that identified four principal priorities:
- Strengthening regional organizational capacity
- Improving delivery of services to rural and urban communities in the region
- Outreach and educational activities targeting immigrant families
- Advocacy at the local, state and federal levels
Highlights of CVIIC’s Work
The strategic priorities have led to the development of an organizational trajectory that has been highlighted by:
The organization each year of dozens of training opportunities for representatives of partner organizations. Trainings cover a wide range of issues related to immigration in the Central Valley, including various aspects of federal immigration law, updates in state or federal policies, health access and policies, rapid response strategies, the 2020 Census, AB 60 driver’s licenses, fundraising, communication strategies and many others. An important aspect of the work in this area has been the coordination of regional efforts to maximize the impact of activities being carried out by allies of our regional collaborative and leverage the use of human, material and financial resources. The coordination efforts are significant due to the vast disparity in resources that exists in comparison to other regions of the state.
Delivery of immigration legal services to immigrant communities via workshops organized throughout the Central Valley, in rural and urban communities. Since 2014, the regional collaborative has held over 300 workshops offering application assistance to immigrants interested in naturalization, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, U Visas and other existing forms of relief. The legal services are offered free of charge and begin with a basic legal screening to check for eligibility. The events have varied in size, depending on the capacity of the available venue.
Each year, CVIIC staff and allies of our regional collaborative work together to plan and organize hundreds of informational events targeting immigrant communities. This includes presentations at educational institutions, churches, health clinics, health fairs, mobile consulates, libraries, vocational education agencies, community centers, and other locations. In addition, CVIIC distributes thousands of copies of informative and educational materials covering a wide range of topics, know your rights materials, AB 60 driver’s licenses materials, directories of nonprofit legal services providers and others. Thanks to key media partners like Univision Fresno and Radio Bilingue, we are also able to participate in television and radio programs and televised phone banks, reaching thousands of people. As part of its outreach efforts, CVIIC also runs social media campaigns, reaching hundreds of thousands of people per year. A text messaging campaign with over 5,500 members serves to transmit every week messages related to immigration events and news. CVIIC has created three websites and three Facebook pages to target different audiences:
- ValleCentral.org was designed to inform Latino immigrants of events and relevant news. Its content is increasingly bilingual.
- Immigrantfresno.org was created to focus attention on immigrants in Fresno. It is an English language site.
- CVIIC.org is our website is intended to present the organizational profile, priorities and key areas of work.
Advocacy is an area of work that has permitted us to open the regional discussions over the importance of immigrant integration policies and led us to become involved with statewide and national partners in campaigns addressing issues such as: Healthcare for All, One California funding, DACA, 2020 Census, federal immigration policies and others. As part of this effort, CVIIC has participated each year in Immigrant Day activities in Sacramento and in the Equity on the Mall annual event. Legislative visits have been made to local offices of representatives and in Sacramento.
CVIIC Involvement with Regional, State and National Networks
CVIIC is a regional collaborative but it is also part of broader efforts that have linked us to regional, state and national networks. These opportunities have made it possible to connect our region to broader organizational developments and helped to generate new resource that can benefit our local organizations and immigrant families. These networks include:
- DriveCa Coalition
- Fresno County Legal Defense Fund
- Having Our Say
- New Americans Campaign
- Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network
- Ready California
- San Joaquin Valley Health Fund Regional Policy Committee