Business & Finances

Immigration Needs in Los Angeles

Due to its proximity to ports of entry and a major international airport, Los Angeles is home to immigrants from around the world. Obtaining a visa or work permit in the US can be a complicated process. Often, mistakes made in filing the correct paperwork could have costly consequences. Learn about Immigration Needs in Los Angeles here

Expanding the availability of lawful pathways. Opening regional processing centers in the Western Hemisphere to reduce the need for migrants to travel illegally.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

People from around the world leave their homes to rebuild their lives, seeking safety and stability. Many flee armed conflict, persecution or human rights violations, including torture.

Refugee resettlement services connect refugees still overseas with local family and friends, known as “local ties.” Case managers work with them to arrange airport reception, grant resettlement funds, conduct mental health screenings, provide orientation, access public benefits and find employment and housing. IILA’s programs include community building, job readiness and the early employment matching grant program.

The coalition has a network of 35 member groups that serve immigrants and refugees, as well as community members who support them. It plans to meet this week to discuss possible effects of the end of Title 42 and how to respond. The group also supports other aid groups in the region that may be affected, such as PTV and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. They have started a formal partnership and share resources.

Unaccompanied Minors

Many of the children who arrive in Los Angeles from Central America come without parents or caregivers. In the absence of family support systems, they often engage in exploitative, full-time work and lack access to education (Canizales 2021b).

When they are released from government custody to live with sponsors in the United States, unaccompanied minors struggle with a variety of issues, including blocked access to social supports such as health care, which can impact their overall well-being. CILA’s social work program has developed a toolkit for sponsors to help them navigate the challenges that may arise during this process.

As the needs of children and teens in the United States continue to grow, it is essential that our immigration system continues to protect the rights and safety of these young people. CILA will continue to support the nonprofits in the region working to provide shelter, food, housing, healthcare, and educational and vocational opportunities for children who enter the country alone.

Undocumented Immigrants

Over the past 40 years, LA County’s suburbs like Arcadia, Temple City and Walnut have experienced the greatest growth in the foreign-born population. This might have something to do with the high cost of housing in densely populated inner city neighborhoods, forcing many immigrants out into suburban areas that offer more affordable rents.

The lack of a safety net benefit system leaves many undocumented immigrant families vulnerable. UC Merced researchers note that during the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented workers accounted for a disproportionate share of frontline deaths and did not have access to unemployment benefits.

Undocumented immigrant residents are also often linguistically isolated, with 40% having no family member who is proficient in English. They also fear that enrolling in programs could put them at risk of deportation. As a result, program participation among this population is low. For example, a survey of My Health LA participants revealed that a significant number avoid the application for services out of concern that they may be reported to ICE.

Migrant Workers

Migrant workers are the backbone of many industries such as agriculture, construction and food services. They are also disproportionately represented in coronavirus-related deaths (85). Many migrant workers have limited access to health care and employment benefits due to language/cultural barriers, lack of immigration documentation or fear of government assistance programs (9).

In addition, migrants tend to work in 3-D jobs —dirty, dangerous, and demanding —and may experience worse health outcomes than other nonmigrant workers due to the nature of their work and environmental exposures. These workers are also more likely to be exposed to human rights violations, abuse, and trafficking (9).

UC Merced researchers found that undocumented workers in the industries with the highest rates of COVID-related deaths had the lowest rates of unemployment insurance usage. They also lacked access to information about vaccines and the pandemic (86). The IRC is working to address these needs through a series of projects, including an Essential Workers Pilot Program.


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