Grantmakers Play an Important Role in Comprehensive Immigration Reform Efforts

By Mirela Iverac

Publisher by WNYC

February 20, 2013

Laughter and jokes belie the serious planning that’s taking place on the eighth floor of a building in midtown Manhattan. Five staffers of United We Dream are tackling everything from finding new space to long-term goals.

This group, started in 2008 by college students without legal status, has expanded to be the biggest youth-led immigrant organization in the country with 52 affiliates in 23 states. And they’re hot on the heels of last year’s success.

“We were able to not only organize at the grassroots level and mobilize young people all across the country,” said Cristina Jimenez, United We Dream’s managing director, talking about last year. “But we were also able to be sophisticated about our thinking and engaging with many immigration law experts.”

The organization lobbied the White House and played a key role in getting deferred action put in place. Over 420,000 children brought illegally to the United States have so far gotten temporary work permits. Their work didn’t go unnoticed. One of the biggest national immigration funders, the Open Society Foundations has given them $800,000 in grants to date.

“In a proposal what I look for is a really strong vision and a very a compelling strategy with very clear activities that will get us to the policy change we want to see, that moves our grant making forward,” said Archana Sahgal, who manages the immigration portfolio at the Open Society Foundation.

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