“Since the election of Donald Trump, undocumented queer and transgender Latinx people have been at higher risk of deportation and discrimination due to their legal status,” said Sam Byrd, director for the Centro de Comunidad y Justicia.
Founded in 1996, this Boise-based nonprofit organization helps improve the educational, economic, and social status of Latinx Idaho residents, with an emphasis on low-income families.
With the help of a Pride Foundation Rapid Response Fund grant, CCJ began offering critical and timely programs that they knew were desperately needed in their communities—including Know Your Rights (KYR) trainings and affordable legal immigration services.
The services have been made available to LGBTQ immigrants throughout Idaho, including the communities of Twin Falls, Jerome, and Burley. Byrd estimates that the KYR trainings will assist 300 LGBTQ immigrants through February 2018, with 150 LGBTQ immigrants also screened to determine what options are available to them.
KYR trainings cover immigrants’ Fourth and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights when confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in various contexts—at the home, in the workplace, on the street, or in local jails.
“To our knowledge, there are no other similar projects or resources available to LGBTQ Idahoans—and in particular transgender people of color,” Byrd noted. “These kinds of services have not been historically earmarked for the unique and unmet needs of these communities.”
Idaho has a small, but growing immigrant population. While only 6 percent of the state’s residents are immigrants, according to the American Immigration Council, they represent a greater share of the workforce. Idaho’s farming and fishing industry—one of the state’s top economic drivers—benefits from immigrants who make up over 40 percent of its labor force. Idaho has also resettled refugees from around the world since the mid-‘70s, including more than 5,000 during the 1990s alone, according to the Idaho Office for Refugees.
Byrd said that Trump’s election and his administration’s subsequent actions this year such as the Muslim travel ban and ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have raised the level of apprehension among all marginalized communities.
“The uncertainty and fear created by these threats requires more intensive, person-to-person outreach to Latinx and LGBTQ immigrant communities of color,” Byrd emphasized, “to ensure ongoing access to immigration legal services in order to protect their rights, and legalize their status whenever possible.”
The CCJ grant is the second Rapid Response Fund grant Pride Foundation has awarded in Idaho this year. The first went to The Community Center in Boise, which received funding to hold a Citizenship Day event in April in Twin Falls. Funds provided support and resources for 90 immigrants and refugees, many of whom identified as LGBTQ. That included one family who had nearly given up on their dream of becoming U.S. citizens. Read more about their journey here.
Pride Foundation created the Rapid Response Fund in early 2017 to counter the renewed threats at both local and national levels against the hard-fought legal, economic, and cultural advances our communities have made.
To read more about other RRF projects, apply for RRF grant funds, or make a gift to the fund, click here. To support the critical ongoing work of Centro de Comunidad y Justicia, you can mail a check to their office at 4696 Overland Road, Suite 226, Boise, Idaho, 83705, or email Byrd at email@example.com to arrange a gift by credit card.
Steve Martin is the Regional Philanthropy Officer in Idaho for Pride Foundation. E-mail Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.