Since 1986 the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, better known as CHIRLA, has been advocating for immigrants’ rights. Established in Los Angeles to serve immigrants in that city, the organization has since expanded to become a national force, advocating for people who come to the United States to contribute and find a better way of life.
CHIRLA officials point out that immigrants represent more than a third of the California workforce and contribute $130 billion to that state’s GDP. They also pay $3.1 billion in state and local taxes and $4.6 billion in sales taxes. Read more: Phoenix New Time and Michael Larcey | Facebook
These numbers prove that immigrants are an essential element of the California economy, advocates say. Losing what they bring to the state would be nothing less than devastating to the California economy.
The work CHIRLA does recently attracted the attention of the Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund, an organization founded by two Arizona journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. Lacey and Larkin also founded the Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media.
In 2007, the two newsmen were abruptly arrested by deputies of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department — taken from their homes in the middle of the night and thrown in jail. The action was taken under the direction of then Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, well known for his vehement anti-immigrant views. The only “crime” said to be committed by the journalists was reporting the existence of grand jury proceedings that sought reporters’ notes on articles covering Sheriff Arpaio.
The arrests were quickly deemed illegal by a U.S. Court which ruled that the two journalists’ First Amendment rights were violated. The result was a $3.7 million settlement paid to Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin by Maricopa County.
Lacey and Larkin used the money to establish their Frontera Fund, and the money is now used to support organizations such as CHIRLA.
CHIRLA has an ambitious investment program which includes providing funds for the $30 million “One California Program” which supports legal services for immigrants, including helping them gain American citizenship.
CHIRLA is investing in the Due Process for All proposal which seeks to provide legal help for immigrants threatened with removal processing. Yet another CHIRLA investment is for a health care coverage program for qualified immigrants. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/5-smart-ways-people-and-places-are-resisting-trumps-immigration-policies/
CHIRLA is also heavily involved in lobbying the California Legislature. For example, the group is supporting the California Values Act which provides safeguards to ensure that police, school, health and other services remain available to immigrant families living and working in California.
Another bill the group is sponsoring prohibits any person from acting as an immigration consultant unless that person is an attorney or accredited by federal law. Additionally, CHIRLA is co-sponsoring AB 206, a proposal that seeks to give day laborers greater opportunities to seek work.
From lobbying the state of California to providing direct services to immigrant families, CHIRLA has established itself as one of the most significant and effective advocacy groups for migrant workers in the united States.