Cambridge Comm. Foundation Gives $255K for Legal Services

November 1, 2018 — The Cambridge Community Foundation this week announced that it awarded $255,000 to four Boston and Cambridge nonprofits to provide more legal services for immigrant families from Cambridge and the surrounding communities who are facing detention or possible deportation.

“Local families grappling with shifting immigration policies are facing urgent needs for quality legal defense,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF). “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.”

The funds come from the Cambridge Legal Defense Fund, launched last spring by CCF and the City of Cambridge to support local nonprofits that provide legal assistance to young adults previously protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, who are at risk of deportation, and others.

The grantees were selected through a competitive process conducted by a panel of experts, including immigration attorneys and representatives of the Cambridge mayor's office.

Receiving the funds were the following: CCF said changes in immigration policies, including DACA and temporary protected status, and increased enforcement by federal agencies have resulted in a dramatic increase in the number 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," said IIIC Ronnie Millar Executive Director.

Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern said, “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. Through this fund and these grants, our community’s support of our immigrant neighbors will have a lasting impact on families that need help.”

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.

According to CCF, while it’s difficult to ascertain city specific data, proxy data for Cambridge show 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.