Increasing access to immigration legal services.
Years active: 3
Their story: Immigrant Legal Services was founded with a mission to increase access to legal services for immigrants and their families in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties. Services include affordable legal representation, advice and education. The organization’s handles a wide variety of cases, including those involving crimes, with staff attorneys who provide full legal representation on an income-based sliding scale. Executive Director Ariadna Renteria Torres has worked in immigration law for more than two decades, and operated her own private law firm in Watsonville prior to starting ILSCC in 2017.
Fundraising focus: With a small staff and a lean budget, Immigrant Legal Services of the Central Coast aims to help its largely Mexican-born clientele in a slew of immigration-related areas, including green card renewals, naturalization applications, family-based visas and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Staff members also offer legal advice for immigrants planning to travel abroad or applying for public benefits. The goal is to provide these services at an affordable cost, based on clients’ income levels. Charging below-market rates for this often time-consuming work poses a financial challenge. Grant funding helps, but more donations are needed to keep up with demand.
“Lack of or uncertainty in immigration status can create tremendous instability and insecurity in families and communities, deprive them of access to services, and reduce their ability to function as productive members of society.”