Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2018

150 VIP Leaders Call for Testing, Tracing and Supported Isolation in Meeting with Maricopa Supervisor


Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates joined VIP’s Leaders Assembly on July 22 ...for a public strategy to accelerate COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing. VIP Leaders taught the crucial strategy needed to suppress the coronavirus and engender the trust required to open the economy and schools. With emphasis on Testing, Tracing and Supported Isolation (TTSI), the strategy is based on conversations with Danielle Allen, lead author of the Harvard report, Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience (link to the study). VIP Congregations have stepped up in support of this strategy, offering their facilities as trusted sites for testing centers and the commitment to recruit individuals from the community to be trained as contact tracers.

The urgency of this moment was clearly demonstrated with stories: from frontline workers about how COVID-19 has overtaken all aspects of healthcare to a mother’s concern for loved ones in prison, where only minimal protections have been offered as the virus spreads throughout the facility.

150 VIP Leaders Assemble Online with Supervisor Bill Gates to Discuss COVID-19 Strategies, Valley Interfaith Project

In Workforce Summit, AMOS Calls For Public Investment in Human Capital


A group of nearly 100 people gathered Thursday to address challenges facing the state’s workforce and what needs to be done as the state continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting, hosted by AMOS Institute of Public Life, the education and training arm of AMOS [A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy], drew members of the region’s faith-based community, business leaders, and state and local government officials.

The meeting focused on Project IOWA, a nonprofit organization that offers support and training to Iowans looking to improve their careers.

Paul Osterman, a professor of human resources at the MIT Sloan School of Management, the keynote speaker of the meeting, said job training programs, such as Project IOWA, have had great success in helping low-wage workers climb the ladder to better-paying jobs.

He said nothing has changed since the pandemic began to spread, “it’s just intensified it,” in reference to the need for services.

Osterman said one challenge that needs to be addressed is helping people move from one job to another, something Project IOWA focuses on.

There isn’t a strong public system to help with that, so the work Project IOWA does is essential to not only train workers, but also provide access to good jobs and creating good jobs.

“And these programs do both of these,” Osterman said. “You provide training, skills and connection to employers, but programs like these also create worker jobs, because there is research that shows that in communities that have effective human capital, skill development systems, employers do better. More jobs are created. It’s better for entrepreneurs. It’s better for employers. It helps new businesses coming to the community when they can see that the community is invested in the skills of its people, and sharing the cost of developing the skills of its people.

“Over time, it actually improves the economic health of the community,” he said.

Change Needed in Job Training, Development in New Pandemic Workforce, Business Record [pdf]


DAI, TMO, IAF Raise Alarm on Impact of Executive Order on Undocumented Immigrants


Whenever [TMO leader] Father Carmelo Hernandez makes a live appearance on his church's YouTube channel, he asks the same question each week: "Have you filled out your census form?"

The parishioners of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Houston are largely Hispanic, undocumented or of mixed status, living in one of the most diverse cities in the nation. Hernandez has spent months using his pulpit to demystify the census, disentangle the misinformation and quiet the fears that congregants have about being counted.

But news that President Trump signed a memorandum Tuesday that would exclude many of his parishioners from congressional apportionment is enough to scare them back into invisibility, he said. To them it is proof — against Hernandez's many efforts to the contrary — that the census is a trap and should be avoided.

Tuesday’s memo comes as the Census Bureau begins outreach to the nation’s hardest-to-count groups, including immigrants. If the government is seen as trying to disadvantage them, some might be less likely to respond to the survey, immigrant advocates said.

“This is an order designed to sow fear and mistrust between peoples and becomes a matter of life and death as the US battles a deadly pandemic,” said a statement from the Industrial Areas Foundation, a group that works with churches and organizers in the West and Southwest to educate and support minority communities.


Soco[rro] Perales, an organizer with Dallas Area Interfaith, said that organizers will continue to encourage immigrant families to cooperate with the Census.

“That information cannot be shared” with immigration authorities, she said. “Everybody still needs to be counted and it is still safe.”

[Photo Credit: Mandel Ngan, AFP / Getty Images]

Some in Texas Fear Trump Ban on Undocumented Immigrants in Census is Scare Tactic to Suppress CountWashington Post [pdf]

DAI Raises Alarm That Undocumented Immigrants are Self-Evicting


“When they want to ask for help from a nonprofit, and the staff only speaks English, they feel intimidated and don’t want to go on,” said Adriana Godines, a volunteer for Dallas Area Interfaith, a community group made up of religious congregations, schools and other nonprofits. “Even if I tell them that there will be no problem and they won’t ask for your Social Security, they prefer not to [ask for help].”

And even people who go to the justice of the peace courts, where eviction cases are heard, face similar hurdles.

“A lot of JP courts won’t have bilingual speakers,” said Lizbeth Parra-Davila, a housing fellow at the University of Texas School of Law. “Throughout Texas, that has been the case where I’ll call JP courts and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, we don’t have any Spanish speakers. We don’t have any Spanish interpreters.’”

Many undocumented people have been counting on their families, friends and churches.

Godines has seen homes with 12 people living together as people who self-evict move in with loved ones.

“It’s people of all ages. Kids, adults, sometimes senior citizens,” she said.

Godines has worked with families searching for rental assistance, and she said that funds are running low among nonprofit organizations that are allowed to serve undocumented immigrants.

“We want to do more, but we don’t have more resources,” Godines said. “But the little that we have in this community, we give it.”

Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas explained that many priests and churchgoers have pooled together resources to pay for rent and food for undocumented migrants. But he, too, worries how long such resources will last.

“I don’t think we know yet how serious this is or how long it will last. When the city assistance program opened, the help available was overwhelmed in the first couple of hours,” Kelly said. “It could be a very lengthy situation. There’s so much uncertainty.”

[Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang, The Texas Tribune]

DAI Raises Alarm That Undocumented Immigrants are Self-Evicting, Texas Tribune [pdf]

Central Texas Interfaith & Austin Apartment Association Call for $100 Billion in Emergency Rental Relief


After distributing $1.2 million in May, the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department announced Tuesday $17.75 million will be available to help renters in the second round of the Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Program.


The city will use a lottery system to pick funding recipients, so for people like Carlota Garcia with Central Texas Interfaith, the worry is about those who won’t get picked.

“No longer are we able to borrow from friends or borrow from family, savings accounts have been pillaged, there is no cushion left for people,” she said. “This moment has the potential to become disastrous.”

She said the state and the federal government should create a plan that gets those in need help beyond the next six months.

“In order for us to be able to prevent families from falling into starvation, or worse, we really need to have the federal government step up, as well as the statewide government..."

[Photo: Footage by KXAN]

$17 Million to be Available Soon to Help Austin Renters Affected by COVID-19, KXAN Austin [pdf]

Joint Statement on Emergency Rental Relief, Central Texas Interfaith & Austin Apartment Association

COPA Leverages $2 Million for EsperanzaCare - Healthcare for Low-Income Undocumented in Monterey County


What started out in 2015 as a $500,000 pilot from Monterey County became a bonafide $2 million health initiative to cover the uninsured in 2017. Esperanza Care gives basic healthcare to undocumented residents who are not covered by state or federal subsidized insurance, and was renewed by the&nbsp Board of Supervisors in the 2020-2021 county budget. Esperanza Care came about thanks to efforts of community groups like the local branch of Community Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA).

COPA leader María Elena Manzo  says that Esperanza Care came out of the county trying to fill a major hole in Medi-Cal, and relentless advocacy work:

“We have it because we kept showing up. [The county supervisors] couldn’t ignore us,”

she says. Esperanza Care costs $2 million annually.

The Buzz 07.16.20, Monterey Weekly

Coloradans for the Common Good Helps Comcast Close Digital Divide and Include Immigrants in Nationwide Program

In response to a series of engagements with CCG leaders seeking to bridge the digital divide for low-income families, internet giant Comcast moved to broaden access to high-speed internet, particularly for low-income and undocumented families.    Starting this summer, Comcast is adjusting the application for its free internet nationwide to better reflect the variety of identification forms accepted, and de-emphasize its initial request for a social security number.  Comcast also agreed to extend its offer of 60 days free internet for new subscribers through the end of the year.  These changes are being rolled out nationwide!

[Additional background from the Colorado Sun:]

In March, Comcast began offering [a] discounted service for free for 60 days to new families. The service usually costs $9.95 per month and caters to low-income households. Comcast also increased the service’s internet speed to 25 mbps and plans to continue making it free for 60 days to new eligible customers for the rest of 2020. The company is also offering free public Wi-Fi through the end of the year.

But the Internet Essentials program didn’t necessarily appeal to everyone who qualified. Coloradans for the Common Good this spring approached Comcast to ask the internet giant to modify its application, which asked for Social Security numbers even though other forms of identification were acceptable.

That deterred some immigrant families from attempting to enroll in the service. Coloradans for the Common Good — composed of churches, community organizations and teachers’ unions — reached out to lawmakers and Comcast’s corporate leaders pleading for change. After a series of email exchanges and Zoom meetings, Comcast adjusted its application nationwide to better reflect the variety of identification forms accepted. That change took effect in June, said Marilyn Winokur, co-chair of Coloradans for the Common Good.

“We want to get as many, many families that don’t have internet access to have the access that they need in order to participate in remote learning should it happen again,” Winokur said.

[Photo Credit:  Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun]

Colorado Gears Up For Online Learning With Digital Access Push — And One Victory for Undocumented Families, Colorado Public Radio [pdf]

Online Classes Aren’t Going Anywhere, but Thousands of Colorado Students Still Don’t Have Internet Access, Colorado Sun [pdf]

Big Wins on Internet Access, Fair Wages for School Workers, Coloradans for the Common Good

As Tax Deadline Approaches, California IAF Celebrates Inclusion of Some Undocumented Families in State Tax Break Program

[Excerpts from various articles]

In initial talks with state legislatures, the organizers and leaders of Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action, or COPA were not too sure that the state would budge on who would qualify for California's Earned Income Tax credit, or CalEITC. The tax credit, is intended to give cash back to the poorest working families, but as Covid-19 hit it was clear the threshold to qualify for the credit was not reflective of who the poorest were in the state.

In COPA's eyes, structural change was needed in the form of extending the tax credit to more taxpayers, including undocumented workers. The monetary relief the state circulated to lessen the economic blow of Covid-19 was a one time payment of up to $500 per individual and the deadline to qualify for the aid ended in June 30. This is in to comparison to the Federal CARES Act which provide a one time payment of $1,200.


Faith and community leaders with the California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) celebrated a victory Tuesday after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget that includes an expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to undocumented workers with young children.

While not a full expansion to all undocumented workers, the tax credit will help tens of thousands of families with at least one child under the age of 6 who pay their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Some households may receive up to $2,600 each year, depending on their income and family size.

According to IAF, undocumented immigrants represent 10% of the California workforce, and their labor has largely fallen into work deemed “essential” throughout the pandemic — in agriculture, food distribution and service, elder care and child care, among other occupations....

On May 5, more than 1,200 California IAF leaders, along with 10 Bishops and nine state legislators, convened on Zoom to press Newsom to expand the Cal EITC. More than 1,000 faith and community leaders signed on to a letter in support of the expansion, and in the thick of budget negotiations they organized hundreds of leaders to send letters to the governor and to the top leadership of the senate and assembly....

“We commend Gov. Newsom and state legislators for investing in families, especially during a deficit year,” said Rabbi Susan Leider with Congregation Kol Shofar, Marin Organizing Committee. “We know they have faced enormous pressure to cut back, and instead they have paid in. This tax credit is not just a one-time handout, but will help families year after year. Our leaders have been working for months to make sure our essential workers aren’t left behind, and this is a huge step forward.”

[Photo Credit: Erika Mahoney, 90.3 KAZU]

Faith, Community Leaders Praise Tax Break for Undocumented Workers, Good Times by: Johanna Miller [pdf]

California Tax Breaks Extended To Undocumented Families, NPR, KAZU 90.3 [pdf]

California Approves a Tax Credit to More Low-Income Families, Including Undocumented Workers, Monterey County Now Weekly [pdf]


Changing What I Cannot Accept: An IAF Organizer's Story Of Understanding Mississippi Racism


....there was a moment when I had to fight back tears of rage as I listened to my son sobbing about an experience he had while playing with a white boy at a nearby park. The boy’s dad had seen the two together and called him over to tell him that he couldn’t play with Black kids. When my son tried to re-engage the boy, he told him what his father said. He was 7.

I was angrier than ever.

By this time, I had begun dealing with my anger through my broad-broad organizing with Working Together Jackson, the local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which engages in the building of power through institutions. Having returned to the South, I had started to understand my work as an organizer as a reckoning of sorts.

Indeed, I was here working to deal with the same evils that drove my family away from here long ago, “evils” that now present in the form of disinvestment in poor Black communities, failing to adequately fund public schools, failing to expand Medicaid (“because … Obama”), and other issues that keep Mississippi in last place.

State Flag: ‘Hell Did Not Freeze Over’

For 126 years, that evil was embodied in the state flag. And while many try to claim otherwise, indisputably, the battle flag has racist origins. It was a constant reminder of the collective pain, trauma and the systematic subjugation of Black people, my people.

So for me, bringing down the flag marks a new season for Mississippi. And it gives me a renewed sense of hope for Mississippi, because if we can do this now, so much more is within our grasp. When the votes came in on Sunday, I exhaled both literally and spiritually. A weight was lifted from my consciousness that I had not realized was so heavy.

I also felt a tremendous amount of pride. As the senior organizer with Working Together Mississippi, our statewide organizing vehicle, I worked with clergy from various faith traditions across the state in the fight to remove the flag. We worked with Jews, Muslims and Christians from many different denominations, such as Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Mennonites, COGIC, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Southern and Missionary Baptists. It was the honor of a lifetime, an ode to the ancestors and others who championed this cause long before me.

Changing What I Cannot Accept: My Story of Understanding Racism in MississippiMississippi Free Press

California IAF Wins Victory for Essential Workers: $65M in Added Funding for Undocumented Families

After more than 1,200 leaders gathered online, signed petitions and pressed upon state legislators the importance of expanding access to state Earned Income Tax Credit benefits to undocumented taxpayers, California IAF leaders declared a victory for essential workers.

“We commend Governor Newsom and state legislators for investing in families, especially during a deficit year,” said Rabbi Susan Leider with Congregation Kol Shofar, Marin Organizing Committee. “We know they have faced enormous pressure to cut back, and instead they have paid in. This tax credit is not just a one time handout, but will help families year after year. Our leaders have been working for months to make sure our essential workers aren’t left behind, and this is a huge step forward.”

While not a full expansion to all undocumented workers, the tax credit will help tens of thousands of families with at least one child under the age of six who pay their taxes using an ITIN. Some households may receive up to $2,600 each year, depending on their income and family size, a significant investment in some of the most vulnerable families impacted by the pandemic.

Allies also celebrated the victory, including Senator Maria Elena Durazo:  “Under the states’ current economic situation, we are happy to be able to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit program for ITIN filing California families.... Thank you to the California IAF members for continuing to push for this inclusion, which United Way sees as a fundamental tool to move families out of poverty. With your continued advocacy, California will move out of this global pandemic, a more united and inclusive state.”

Faith, Community Leaders Praise Tax Break for Undocumented Workers Included in State Budget, The Pajaronian

California IAF Declares a Victory for Essential Workers, California IAF

No Relief HereVoices of Monterey Bay 

The Fight to Shore Up The Safety Net for Undocumented WorkersKAZU [pdf]

Immigrant Workers Face Economic Uncertainty During Covid-19 ShutdownAmerica Magazine [pdf]

Lideres Religiosos Piden Mas Apoyo Para la Comunidad Inmigrante, Telemundo Bay Area [pdf]  [VIDEO]