Dear California Philanthropic Institutions,
As home to 11 million immigrants – more than any other state – California has long benefited from immigrants’ contributions to its economy and its communities. Yet in recent months, families’ health and well-being have been jeopardized by a federal effort that will deter immigrants from receiving services that help them meet basic human needs such as health care, food, and housing, undermining their ability to remain strong, productive, and stable.
With the finalization of a new federal “public charge” rule, set to go into effect on October 15, we urge all funders in California to join us in signing onto this letter, committing to fight against this rule that will drive families away from critical services they are legally eligible to receive. United together, we can help create the vibrant, inclusive California we all believe is possible.
We believe that philanthropy has a vital role to play in directly helping affected children and families and in driving lasting change. This includes rapid response funding for organizations conducting outreach and education as well as providing direct services to affected children and families; supporting efforts by researchers to monitor, document, and study the harm caused by the rule changes; helping to build a long-term movement infrastructure; and supporting advocates in their efforts to reduce or reverse harmful policies at the federal level.
Representing foundations located across California and serving a wide variety of communities in our state, we support improving health care, building strong communities, immigrant integration, and many other issues. We are deeply concerned about how the new “public charge” rule could erode decades of hard-fought progress by our grantees and longtime investments in each of those areas. According to a recent analysis by the California Budget & Policy Center, the new rule could lead to 165,000 more Californians being pushed into poverty as they are likely to avoid CalFresh food assistance and the housing subsidies they need, and the state losing out on $1.67 billion in federal benefits that help the state’s economy.
The simple rumor of a potential rule change quickly led to a “chilling effect” as human service providers reported families disenrolling from programs they are eligible for because they fear potential consequences on their immigration status. 2 Up to 765,000 immigrants in California could drop nutrition assistance and health insurance due to the rule and almost 70 percent of those losing benefits would be children, according to an estimate by UCLA, UC Berkeley, and California Food Policy Advocates. The Children’s Partnership has also analyzed the potential impact by county, and the California Association of Food Banks has warned of increasing hunger that could result across California.
In the face of federal anti-immigrant actions, California has consistently charted a different course. Governor Newsom and the California Health and Human Services Secretary have criticized changes to the federal public charge policy that would restrict access to vital social programs. We applaud the state of California, the counties of San Francisco and Santa Clara, and the advocacy groups who are suing to block the public charge rule before it takes effect in mid-October.
Last year more than 30 foundations across California opposed the rule after it was first proposed, and more than 266,000 people and organizations submitted comments overwhelmingly opposing it. Despite the resistance, the new version of the rule has been put in place and will go into effect in October.
For more information on how you can help affected children and families, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees’ website helpfully includes a range of ways to support organizations tackling both rapid response work and larger strategic efforts. Whatever path we each choose, we are committed to doing our part.
No one should be forced to choose between necessities such as food, housing, and health care, and their future. We stand with immigrant families and are working towards a day when all Californians have opportunities to thrive.
Claire M. Solot, Managing Director Bigglesworth Family Foundation
Ray Baxter, President and CEO Blue Shield of California Foundation
Antonia Hernández, President and CEO California Community Foundation
Peter Laugharn, President and Chief Executive Officer Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
James W. Head, President & CEO East Bay Community Foundation
Deanna S. Gomby, Ph.D., M.S., President and CEO Heising-Simons Foundation
Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO Latino Community Foundation
Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO Northern California Grantmakers
Adrienne Wittenberg, Executive Director S. Mark Taper Foundation
Debbie McKeon, President and CEO San Diego Grantmakers
Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO Sierra Health Foundation and The Center
Nicole Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Christine Essel, President and CEO Southern California Grantmakers
Eugene Stein, President Stein Early Childhood Development Fund
Glen Galaich, CEO Stupski Foundation
Tegan Acton, President Sunlight Giving
Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO The California Endowment
Sandra R. Hernández, MD, President & Chief Executive Officer The California Health Care Foundation
Carol S. Larson, President and CEO The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Leslie Dorosin and Rebekah Saul Butler, Co-Executive Directors The Grove Foundation
Michele Lew, CEO The Health Trust
Fred Blackwell, CEO The San Francisco Foundation
Nancy L. Wiltsek, Executive Director van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation
Jamie Allison, Executive Director Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Fred Ali, President and CEO Weingart Foundation
Robert Uyeki, CEO Y & H Soda Foundation