Our Mission

VACIR is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.

Author Archives: Monica Sarmiento

2017 Grants

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is accepting proposals for five organizing projects in Northern Virginia. An amount of $3,000 will be awarded to Virginia organizations in support of each project.

Commonwealth laws and local ordinances in Virginia have often been among the most anti-

immigrant and repressive in the nation. The focus of these grants is to organize immigrant justice supporters and build power within local communities. The goal is to achieve policy changes that immigrants themselves identify as priorities.

The organizers must serve in Northern Virginia, but the host organizations may be located anywhere in Virginia. We expect organizing to happen around the needs of the community, whether it is opposing 287(g) agreements or other policies that affect the immigrant community.

  • Organizations must be in good standing with VACIR, by being up to date with their membership dues.
  • Projects may educate community members about issues that they care about, identify and recruit leaders, and motivate residents to take action.
  • Organizations must show measurable results after the project is complete.

A completed proposal must include:

Application (completed online).

Which will include:

Program Proposal

Program Timeline

Budget

Evaluation Criteria

General Proposal – Who you are and what you hope to achieve (40%)

Plan & Timeline – Is the proposal well thought out with a plan and measureable results (35%)

Budget narrative – Budget (10%)

Is your organization in good standing with VACIR – (15%)

Reviewing, Funding, and Notification Process

All qualified proposals will be considered by a review panel and evaluated on the criteria outlined above. Final decisions on grant recipients will be made and announced in writing.

Official Rules

Your application must be emailed by September 14, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST to be considered. If you have any questions or inquiries, you can email Monica Sarmiento, at monica@virginiaimmigrantrights.org.

Important!  All funded programs will be non-partisan, will not promote any political parties or candidates and compatible with IRS 501 C3 status restrictions.

 


2017 Supervising Grant         

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is issuing a request for proposals for a grassroots supervising organization. This is a one year grant of $20,000. The supervising organization will be working closely with the Executive Director of VACIR and two other organizations, that have yet to be named, in Prince William County and Loudoun County. The supervising organization will provide supervision and guidance to the two organizers working in Prince William County and Loudoun County and meet regularly with them to ensure their success.

The organizers will be focusing on immigrant justice work. The Commonwealth laws and local ordinances in Virginia have often been among the most anti-immigrant and repressive in the nation. The focus of the organizers will be to find immigrant justice supporters and build power within local communities. By achieving policy changes that immigrants themselves identify as priorities.

  • Grassroots supervising organization must have five year of professional organizing experience.
  • Grassroots supervising organization must have hosted at least three organizing training events.
  • Must be familiar with Voter Activation Network.
  • Be in good standing with Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, , by being up to date with their membership dues.
  • Grassroots supervising organization must show measurable results after one year of organizing.

A completed proposal must include:

Application (must be completed online).

Which will include:

Program Proposal

Program Timeline

Budget

Evaluation Criteria

General Proposal – Who you are and what you hope to achieve (40%)

Plan & Timeline – Is the proposal well thought out with a plan and measureable results (35%)

Budget narrative – Budget (10%)

Is your organization in good standing with VACIR – (15%)

Reviewing, Funding, and Notification Process

All qualified proposals will be considered by a review panel and evaluated on the criteria outlined above. Final decisions on grant recipients will be made and announced in writing.

Official Rules

Your application must be emailed by September 14, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST to be considered. If you have any questions or inquiries, you can email Monica Sarmiento, at monica@virginiaimmigrantrights.org.

Important!  All funded programs will be non-partisan, will not promote any political parties or candidates and compatible with IRS 501 C3 status restrictions.

 

 


2017 Organizer Grants

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) seeks a request for proposal for two organizer positions, one each in Prince William County and Loudon County for a matching grant. VACIR will award $40,000 to an organization that can match with $10,000 for a one year organizer position.

Commonwealth laws and local ordinances in Virginia have often been among the most anti-

immigrant and repressive in the nation. The focus of these grants is to organize immigrant justice supporters and build power within local communities. By achieving policy changes that immigrants themselves identify as priorities.

The organizers must serve either the Prince William County or Loudon County, but the host organizations may be located anywhere in Northern Virginia. We expect organizing to happen around the needs of the community, whether it is against 287(g) or other policies that affect the immigrant community.

  • Organizers must have one year of professional organizing experience.
  • Organizers will educate community members about issues that they care about, identify and recruit leaders, and motivate residents to take action.
  • Host organizations must show measurable results after one year of organizing.
  • Organizers must be fairly compensated and provided healthcare and benefits.

A completed proposal must include:

Application (must be completed online).

Which will include:

Program Proposal

Program Timeline

Budget

Evaluation Criteria

General Proposal – Who you are and what you hope to achieve (40%)

Plan & Timeline – Is the proposal well thought out with a plan and measureable results (35%)

Budget narrative – Budget (10%)

Is your organization in good standing with VACIR – (15%)

Reviewing, Funding, and Notification Process

All qualified proposals will be considered by a review panel and evaluated on the criteria outlined above. Final decisions on grant recipients will be made and announced in writing.

Official Rules

Your application must be emailed by September 14, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST to be considered. Please email Ms. Sarmiento for application questions. If you have any questions or inquiries, you can email Monica Sarmiento, at monica@virginiaimmigrantrights.org.

Important!  All funded programs will be non-partisan, will not promote any political parties or candidates and compatible with IRS 501 C3 status restrictions.

 

El abogado Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg de Legal Aid Justice Center analiza el caso de DAPA y DACA que tuvo audiencia en frente de la Corte Suprema

Legal Aid Justice Center Attorney Discusses DAPA Supreme Court Case

Family of Immigrants, Only One a Citizen, Anxiously Awaits Supreme Court Ruling

On Monday, April 4th 2016 Congressman Don Beyer had dinner with a mixed immigration status family that included two DACA recipient children, one U.S. citizen child, and two parents anxiously waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on DAPA. The dinner was hosted by VACIR Chairwomen Leni Gonzalez at her Arlington home. Their story made both local and national headlines. The article below was written by Julia Preston of the New York Times which was published on April 16, 2016.

FAIRFAX, Va. — Jerry Pinto, an immigrant from Bolivia, has visions of opening a spacious carpentry workshop in this suburban city, with his name in bold letters over the door.

“I want a place where I can be visible,” he says wistfully. But for now he knows he has to lie low, because he is in the country illegally. He runs his carpentry business almost surreptitiously from the cramped garage behind his house.

Mr. Pinto is among more than four million unauthorized immigrants whose lives could be transformed by the Supreme Court. On Monday, the justices will hear oral arguments in a challenge brought by 26 states, led by Texas, to President Obama’s effort through executive action to give the immigrants legal work permits and protection from deportation.

Depending on the outcome, people like Mr. Pinto will have a chance to come out into the open or will remain, perhaps for years, in a twilight underground. And the stakes are high in this election year, since the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, have both said they would deport all 11 million foreigners in the country illegally.

The larger of the president’s programs before the Supreme Court would benefit immigrants who are parents of United States citizens and legal permanent residents, if they pass background checks and have no serious criminal records.

Most of those parents have families like Mr. Pinto’s: an immigration mix that leads to differing opportunities and limits, and to openness, secrecy and fear all within one family.

His wife, Elvira, 47, is from Mexico, and also here illegally. His daughter, Ambar, 22, and son Jerry Rodrigo, 15, were born in Bolivia but have grown up like American children in Virginia, although without legal residency. His youngest son, Christian, 8, is the American-born citizen who makes his parents eligible for Mr. Obama’s program, should it be affirmed.

Mr. Pinto was the first in the family to come. He and his wife, whom he met while they were studying in Mexico to be economists, were middle-class professionals in Bolivia before the economy collapsed in the 1990s. They returned to Mexico, and in 2004 he joined a tide of Mexicans running the border into the United States. He recalls being lost for four days without water in the Arizona desert in the heat of high summer, his feet so blistered he had to crawl.

He made his way to Virginia where he had relatives, and he quickly discovered the work available to him without legal papers or a Social Security number was in construction — outdoors. He soon added a second trade, learning plumbing to work two jobs at once. Then he learned another skill, making exterior moldings. Several years ago he purchased an industrial saw that he installed in his garage and started his own company.

Still, Mr. Pinto said, “I can’t think about anything more than survival and making sure my children have something to eat.” Surrounded by the comforts of a well-to-do suburb, he sometimes could not pay rent and buy food.

His wife cleans houses to add to the family income. But even after more than a decade here, she is often reluctant to leave the house.

“I hear news on the radio of an immigration raid nearby,” she said, “and it makes me think I might go out tomorrow morning and never return to see my children.”

The Pintos know how the Supreme Court could change things for them because of what happened to Ambar. At first she was wary of signing up for an initiative by Mr. Obama in 2012, which gave a legal foothold to millions of young undocumented immigrants who came here as children, including authorization to work.

“I was giving my information to the government,” Ambar recalled. “They are going to know my dad’s and my mom’s full names, our address.” Eventually, she applied.

The impact was immediate. She got a secretarial job at a Washington law firm to help pay her college costs. Emboldened, she joined a campaign to persuade Virginia officials to let immigrant students in the program attend state colleges at the lower, resident tuition rates. Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, was impressed by her zeal and invited her to be his guest at Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address in 2013.

She was present — bursting into tears — when a new Virginia attorney general, Mark Herring, announced in 2014 that he would allow the immigrants to pay resident rates. After two years of community college, Ambar will move on this year to a state university, George Mason.

Mr. Pinto observed his daughter’s gains with pride and a twinge of envy. “We have to stop having our own dreams and just think about the future of our children,” he said.

Like the youth program, Mr. Obama’s more recent initiative, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, also offered temporary deportation deferrals and work permits, but no lasting immigration status. The immigrants would be able to get driver’s licenses in some states, to take out loans and own homes and businesses. The president also expanded the youth program, eliminating an upper age limit.

Like the Pintos, at least four-fifths of eligible parents have lived in the United States for a decade or more, according to a study by the Center for Migration Studies, a nonpartisan research center. About 94 percent are steadily employed. Roughly half say they speak English well or fluently.

The states that sued to stop the programs say Mr. Obama overstepped his powers and gave lawbreakers a quasi-legal status that Congress never approved, one that would burden their budgets with costs of services for the immigrants. An injunction was imposed by a federal court in Texas in February 2015, and upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

Sixteen states, including Virginia, and the District of Columbia submitted a brief to the Supreme Court supporting Mr. Obama, saying they expect to benefit through increased tax revenues from immigrants working legally and improved public safety.

Virginia officials are divided on the issue. “Do you go after gang members and drug dealers or spend those limited enforcement resources on breaking up families?” Mr. Herring, the Virginia attorney general who is a Democrat, asked in an interview. “To me, that’s an easy call.”

But Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, signed a Supreme Court brief opposing the programs. “The lack of respect for our immigration laws on the part of government officials and unlawful immigrants is not conducive to promoting respect for the rule of law in general, for preventing crimes and promoting public safety,” Mr. Goodlatte said. A decision from the court is expected in June.

The Pintos are waiting anxiously. Christian, the American citizen now in third grade, has understood for the first time what could happen if immigration agents came for the family. His father and siblings could be sent to Bolivia, his mother to Mexico, and he could be left in the United States.

“At first, like, I didn’t even know what the word immigrant meant,” Christian said. “Now I know that being a citizen means a lot to me because if I wasn’t born here, I wouldn’t be able to help my mom and dad live here.”

If the Supreme Court upholds the programs, Mr. Pinto will rush to apply. He will get a Virginia driver’s license (the one he has now is from Maryland). He will take out a loan to open his workshop, then go back for a mortgage to buy their home.

Hopeful, the family is already taking steps out of hiding, inviting a Democratic congressman, Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, to dinner earlier this month.

“I feel like an American,” Mr. Pinto said. “This is my country now.”

IMG_5791 IMG_5808

Safety First

DL6

By Jeff Connor-Naylor, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

Providing all Virginians, regardless of immigration status, with the ability to get a driver’s license could increase road safety by boosting the share of drivers who are trained and tested, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Institute titled Hands on the Wheel.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia already allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain some form of driver’s card. The three earliest states to implement expanded access to driver’s licenses all have seen a greater than 30 percent drop in traffic fatalities since 1994, compared to a nationwide 20 percent drop.

There are several reasons why offering licenses to all drivers make the roads safer. Virginia law requires that anyone getting a new license must first complete a driver’s education course or hold a learners permit for at least 60 days, which helps a new driver become more familiar with road safety. Drivers who have a license may also be more likely to stay at the scene of an accident, reducing incidents of hit-and-run collisions. Increasing access to driver’s licenses could also increase the share of cars that are insured.  

Getting more drivers licensed also improves our communities and economy. Driving is a necessity for most families, not a choice. Expanding access to licenses would help parents get to parent-teacher conferences, families get to church, and workers get to their jobs.

Newly licensed workers could fill job openings far from public transportation that would otherwise have remained empty. Agricultural employers could see an increase in the share of their workers who are trained, tested, and licensed drivers. And car insurance costs could go down for everyone if there’s increased road safety and decreases in the number of uninsured drivers.

There are good reasons to deny some people access to driving. Those who have a track record of driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, should not be allowed to endanger everyone else on the road. But the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants who want to participate in the system of testing and licensure are not in this category and should be provided the chance to learn and abide by the rules of Virginia’s roads. Expanding access to driver’s licenses would increase safety and help Virginia’s economy and communities.

 

 

Our Members

UFCW Local 400
VACOLAO
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Bread For The World
Emgage
Legal Aid Justice Center
Neighbor's Keeper
Sacred Heart Center
HOLA
SEIU 512
American Jewish Committee