Contra Costa’s nonprofit community takes action to protect local immigrants

San Pablo council considers sanctuary city ordinance March 2017

Residents packed the San Pablo city council chambers on March 6 to support the city’s proposed resolution in support of all cit residents, regardless of immigration status. The resolution passed by a 4-1 vote.

National immigration policy changes are causing many Contra Costa residents to withdraw from the community and to live in fear. Recent federal actions threaten the safety of local children and parents, and harm the well-being of our community as a whole. In response to these threats, community organizations in Contra Costa are mobilizing to support their clients and staff members who are immigrants.

The Ensuring Opportunity Campaign sent a survey last week to nonprofit organizations across Contra Costa County to find out what they are doing to protect their clients and staff who are immigrants. We wanted to find out what impacts these organizations are seeing, what actions they’re already taking, what steps they’re considering, and what they’re interested in learning more about to protect the community members they work with and serve.

We learned that many organizations are proactively working to address the needs of immigrant clients and staff, and that they have a strong desire to learn what more they can do. While many organizations are not yet reporting a significant decrease in client participation in their programs, many are very concerned that this may happen.

Thank you to our community partners who participated in the survey and who shared it with your networks. In just five days, we received 66 responses, representing 58 organizations that provide services to residents throughout Contra Costa County.

Summary of survey findings

(Read the full report here)

Impact on services:
Twenty percent of respondents report that fewer immigrants are now participating with their organizations. Two-thirds of respondents have not yet seen a significant decline in participation, but say they are concerned.

“We are hearing (about) greater impact from similar agencies in areas with greater immigrant populations, and we anticipate we’ll experience more (negative impacts) as circumstances get worse.”

Hate crimes and hiding:
Forty-one percent of respondents reported noticing an increase in racial hate incidents. Twenty-eight percent said they know of children whose parents have pulled them out of school.

“Among undocumented immigrants, there is a tremendous amount of fear and uncertainty. Among Muslim refugees and immigrants, there is more fear of hate being directed at them and their children.”

Local organizations are taking bold steps to help immigrants.

The top four actions Contra Costa organizations are taking include:

  1. Communicating with clients and residents about potential threats and resources
  2. Protecting and anonymizing client data
  3. Talking with their board of directors about their agency’s response to the needs of clients and staff members who are immigrants
  4. Advocating for policies (such as sanctuary city/county/state) that will help immigrants feel safer.

What organizations are hungry for to help them protect immigrants:

The top five activities organizations are interested in learning more about include:

  1. Joining rapid response teams and networks.
  2. Providing Know Your Rights workshops for clients and other residents.
  3. Adopting an organization policy regarding sanctuary/welcoming space.
  4. Meeting/advocating with local police regarding their policies on cooperating with ICE.
  5. Helping families who have been separated due to deportations.


Click here to read the full report on the survey findings.

What you can do:
  • Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, so we can share and support your immigration-related events, services and activities.
  • Share these survey results with your networks.
How Ensuring Opportunity can help your organization and clients:
  • Visit our new Resources for Immigrant Communities page. On this page, you will find information about:
    • A summary of what’s happening in Contra Costa County, including which jurisdictions and organizations have adopted sanctuary or welcoming policies, and a list of organizations and coalitions that are working on immigration issues.
    • A calendar of upcoming events throughout the county, including Know Your Rights trainings and forums for community-based organizations.
    • A list of resources covering everything from sanctuary spaces to immigrants’ rights. Email Zuleika Godinez, Policy Coordinator for Ensuring Opportunity to add your resources and events to our resource page. We will update the website frequently.
  • We are meeting with local community partners and coalitions to explore how Ensuring Opportunity can support various efforts underway across the county to protect local immigrants and support those who work with and serve them. Please contact us if you would like to be a part of these planning conversations.

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