2021 Grants Challenge

Ready to Stay: Advancing Immigrant Legalization and Integration in LA County

For years CHIRLA has helped mixed-status immigrants navigate uncertainty and inequities caused by the immigration system. To prepare for policy changes that may create pathways to legalization, we will expand our community education and legal services to inform, legally advise, and empower immigrants in LA so they can live free from fear. CHIRLA co-chairs a national effort that is building a case management and legal infrastructure system to help immigrants stay in their community. This project will be our local effort called Ready to Stay LA.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The current immigration system has devastating effects on the lives and mental health of immigrants who face constant fear of deportation and barriers to education, employment, and social services due to their legal status. An estimated 750,000 Lawful Permanent Residents and 886,000 undocumented immigrants live in LA County, with the majority from Mexico and Central America, while California has 118,000 essential workers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and 473,000 DACA-eligible people — all of whom need permanent solutions and will be affected by immigration reform. With fast-changing policy changes and recent state budget cuts to programs that assist immigrants with legal fees, there is an overwhelming need among low-income immigrants for in-language information, financial support for legal services, and legal advice to navigate options and obtain legalization. Older immigrants facing language and technology barriers especially need support with accessing resources.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

CHIRLA’s Ready to Stay LA project will expand our infrastructure to help immigrant workers, youth, and families in LA County adjust their legal status under immigration reform and other measures. Currently we are working to make this reform a reality by uplifting immigrant stories at the state and national level. At the local level, CHIRLA will use the power of community education, case management, and legal services to move immigrants into legal status so they can work, live, and thrive in their communities without fear. As a trusted resource, we have already seen increased demand for information and services in response to DACA’s reinstatement and the ban of the public charge rule. With recent legislative proposals to create pathways to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, LPRs, Temporary Protected Status holders, and essential workers, CHIRLA anticipates a huge influx in requests for in-language resources and legal aid in the coming year to help immigrants understand policy changes and access the benefits of immigration reform. To meet this demand we will expand our capacity to provide services through a community-centered approach: hiring more staff to offer individualized assistance and legal consultations, addressing questions from the community and making referrals via our Immigrant Assistance Hotline and webinars, hosting educational workshops about available legal pathways, and building networks to support immigrants in need.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 360,000

Indirect Impact: 2,011,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

In the short term, CHIRLA will connect thousands of immigrants in LA County to legal services, information, and resources to educate them about new immigration policies and changes, and to help them file applications to adjust or gain legal status, starting with over 47,000 community members from our base. Our long-term vision is to build on the infrastructure developed through this project to ensure healthier, more inclusive communities in LA County and beyond, where immigrants can live and seek social services, healthcare, education, and employment without fear of deportation and discrimination based on status. In addition to including immigrants in COVID-19 relief, ending detention and deportation, and advancing the welfare of immigrant workers, CHIRLA’s advocacy aims to open up legal migration and citizenship for 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California and 11 million nationwide. CHIRLA will also engage immigrants in civic and leadership opportunities to use their voices.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

CHIRLA measures our impact by the numbers of immigrants informed, engaged, and assisted, which we track on a daily basis. In 2020 we educated over 94,587 individuals through 216 events and 214,200 viewers via Facebook Live on Know Your Rights and immigration policy changes, while our hotline assisted at least 3,000 callers per quarter with information about their eligibility for immigration programs and legal services referrals. When CHIRLA was selected to distribute state disaster relief to undocumented immigrants in LA and Orange County, our phone lines and website crashed with over a million hits with inquiries, highlighting both the need and our role as a trusted resource. As a Department of Justice-recognized organization since 2011, CHIRLA also provides direct legal representation to over 3,500 low-income immigrants statewide each year. Currently we offer 50-60 virtual consultations and a DACA clinic each week, which we will expand through this project to serve more immigrants.

Which of the LIVE metrics will you impact?​

Healthcare access

Resilient communities

Older adult well-being

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT