Although the successes of immigrant entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley’s technology industry are well known, the startling reality is that Silicon Valley’s legal support infrastructure  cannot accommodate the high number of low-income immigrants in need of legal immigration services. According to The Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California , 36% of the population of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties are immigrants; many of these individuals are disadvantaged, with few avenues for assistance through immigration legal services. With 14% of children in Silicon Valley having at least one undocumented parent, a legal-support structure supporting these vulnerable adults and children is critical.
Thanks to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, several community-based agencies in the San Francisco and San Jose area were able to participate in a multi-day training on immigration law. CLINIC geared the training to new practitioners at local nonprofit agencies and was aimed at preparing them for BIA accreditation. Meeting one day a week for five weeks in the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Mountain View office, advocates gained the tools necessary to spot the most common immigration law issues. The training will help practitioners give more informed advice and represent clients with their cases, including family-based immigration, naturalization, relief from domestic violence, and temporary status protection.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation and CLINIC have teamed up to establish the expansive and high quality service delivery demanded -- now more than ever -- of charitable immigration service providers in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. Over the course of the training, forty-five participants joined a team of CLINIC trainers. Classes ran the gamut of skills necessary to be an effective advocate.
*Tessa M. Winkler is the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.'s (CLINIC) Public Education Officer