The Special Collection during October (all collections from the October 1 service, and any others marked “Special Collection” during the month) will be directed to the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition (LBIRC). LBIRC was formed in 2006 as millions of immigrants joined together in protests in city centers around the country, including Los Angeles. During this March, Norma Chinchilla and Mario Salgado, both members of our church, realized that immigrants in Long Beach had no organization locally to which to turn for services and support and through which to advocate for immigration policy reforms. They agreed then and there to start such an organization.
The first five years were a struggle-—elected officials afraid of coming out publicly in support of immigrants and virtually no available funding. Mario moved away from Long Beach but two other UUCLB members—-Eduarda Diaz Scwarzbach and Gehl Davis–gave crucial support during those years and, equally importantly, UUCLB agree to be LBIRC’s fiscal forward. Fast forward to today, eleven years later, and LBIRC is a highly respected and trusted Long Beach community organization, led by dynamic young organizers, to which immigrants, not matter what their immigration status, can turn to for free legal clinics, English as a Second Language classes, help with access to college and healthcare, workshops on civic engagement and advocacy, legal rights, and detention/deportation prevention.
LBIRC helps grass roots members of our community develop the leadership skills needed to carry out campaigns to change immigration policies at the local, state and national levels and have been active supporters of successful campaigns such as the California Dream Act (financial aid for undocumented college students), making California drivers’ licenses available regardless of immigrant status, expanding healthcare for immigrant children, and making Long Beach a “sanctuary” city. Members of our church also volunteer twice a month in LBIRC’s “Coffee and Conversation” program where adult ESL students practice their English and our volunteers and students share stores about their lives.
Since last November’s election, demand for LBIRC’s services has tripled while its paid staff of organizers has remained the same. Your donations to LBIRC through UUCLB during the month of October will help the organization.