Immigrant Integration

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SFOP has been developing leaders in San Francisco congregations, schools and community centers for 25 years. We believe that San Francisco can be a city for all.
Eleanor Williams, Former SFOP Board President

Support for Immigrant Integration

Immigrant integration teaches us that the future of immigrants and their families are not just their concern. Their futures are intricately tied to the futures of all people. This kind of integration is a two way process in which immigrants and the receiving society can both benefit as they work together to build secure, vibrant, and cohesive communities. It requires an intentional process that incorporates the needs of immigrant populations into policies governing our cities, regions, states and country.

Why is this important?

San Francisco prides itself on being one of the nation’s most steadfast cities that welcomes immigrants, recognizing the vital role that immigrants have had, are having and will have in the city’s growth and development, and valuing their contribution to the cultural richness and diversity, and their large supply of labor to the city.

  • Thirty seven percent (37%) of all city residents are immigrants who come from Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America, including indigenous communities from all over the world.
  • Immigrants live in every district of San Francisco, and are concentrated in the Mission, Chinatown, Tenderloin, South of Market, Excelsior, Visitation Valley, Bayview, Richmond, and the Sunset.
  • Nearly half of all city residents speak a language other than English at home.

(Resolution No. 09-00002 SF Immigrant Rights Commission)

And yet, immigrants residing in San Francisco face many challenges including:

  • Limited or no access to affordable housing, quality jobs, healthcare, public services and good schools
  • Fear of deportation and family separation by discriminatory state and federal policies, and their implementation at the local level.
  • Disproportionate environmental impacts
  • Barriers to higher education for immigrant youth
  • Employer exploitation
  • Discrimination

Background

SFOP has promoted Immigrant Integration by working with immigrants and receiving communities in the city to create policies that benefit all of San Francisco.

  • In 2010, immigrant leaders from various Mission and Excelsior churches participated in a national campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform including a March for America in Washington D.C.
  • In 2009, leaders from St. Anthony’s Church won a three year campaign advocating for increased access to affordable housing units for the “Invisible Homeless” or those At-Risk of Homelessness.
  • In 2007, St. Peter’s Church in the Mission hosted a meeting with 450 immigrant participants, in which Mayor Newsom reconfirmed the city’s commitment to providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, including creating more access to city services.
  • SFOP immigrant leaders from Mission Dolores, St. Anthony’s, Church of the Visitation, and Corpus Christi worked in coalition with others to create the Healthy Kids program, which provides health coverage to children in the city regardless of documentation status. More than 2,000 children were enrolled through various events held in the Mission.
  • After the 1986 federal amnesty law was passed, SFOP worked with our coalition partners to ensure that San Franciscan residents could easily apply for amnesty and access the English and citizenship classes necessary to fully take part in civic life.
  • In the 1980’s, SFOP was part of the coalition that passed San Francisco’s first Sanctuary City ordinance.

Writing a New Story

Our fates are tied together and SFOP leaders are working to ensure our collective fate is filled with opportunity, prosperity and abundance. Through our Immigrant Integration campaign, our leaders are working to improve the quality of life for immigrants, especially the most vulnerable undocumented population, and receiving communities.

The goals of the Immigrant Integration campaign are:

  • To pass policies that support, strengthen and build on the city’s “Sanctuary City” ordinance.
  • To increase access to affordable housing, quality jobs, healthcare, and public services for immigrants.
  • To ensure immigrant parents have a voice in their children’s education.
  • To increase the levels of access for immigrant youth into higher education
  • To advocate for a federal pathway to citizenship that will allow immigrant families to fully contribute and participate in our communities.
  • To develop immigrant community leaders to speak for their own community.
  • To build bridges of understanding, respect and support between immigrants and receiving communities to develop understanding, breakdown stereotypes, build common ground and develop new relationships and alliances

To achieve these goals, our leaders work in collaboration with many Immigrant legal and service providers and are part of the National PICO Immigrant Integration Taskforce, the San Francisco Immigrant Rights and Defense Committee and the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

Our leaders also work with the Justice for Immigrants campaign (created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) via the Office of Public Policy and Social Concern of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.