Immigration and Refugee Rights

Since the founding of the U.S., elected officials and others have tried to pit communities of color against each other, to divide their vote and power. But the grassroots have always championed immigrant justice as part of a larger struggle to advance racial justice. In fact, it was only after the sustained civil rights protests of the 1960s, that achieved protections based on race and national origin, that the Voting Rights Act passed, immediately followed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, abolishing the race-based immigration quota system.

The past decade has witnessed an assault on immigration, with m [...]

Analysis and Research

ICE’s Deadly Practice of Abandoning Immigrants with Disabilities and Mental Illnesses on the Street
Erica Bryant
Vera Institute of Justice
Encuentro: Defending Migrant Rights Across the Americas
Maria Hinojosa, Manuel Pastor, et al.
Equity Research Institute (ERI), USC Dornsife
We Can’t Talk About Immigration Without Acknowledging Black Immigrants
Kovie Biakolo
YES! Magazine
Anatomy of a Modern Day Lynching: The Relationship between Hate Crimes Against Latina/os and the Debate Over Immigration Reform
Kevin R. Johnson and Joanna Cuevas Ingram
UC Davis School of Law
Black Voices Call For New Approaches To Immigration Reform
Leah Wise and Gerald Lenoir
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI); Southeast Regional Economic Justice Network
Immigration Reform and the Possibility of Black-Brown Coalitions among America’s Youth
Jon C. Rogowski
Injustice for All: The Rise of the U.S. Immigration Policing Regime
Randy Capps et al.
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; The Urban Institute
Moving Targets: An Analysis of Global Forced Migration
Elsadig Elsheikh and Hossein Ayazi
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System
Seth Freed Wessler
Applied Research Center
The State of Black Immigrants: Statistical Portrait ... in the United States | ... in the Mass Criminalization System
Juliana Morgan-Trostle, Kexin Zheng, and Carl Lipscombe
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI); NYU Law Immigrant Rights Clinic
The State of Black Immigrants in California
Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez et al.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Black Lives at the Border
Nancy Adossi et al.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
The Truth about ICE and CPB: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Devastating Human Impact of the Deportation Force ...
Immigrant Youth & Families
United We Dream

Community Resources and Examples

Want to Improve the Resettlement Process? Listen to What Refugees Have to Say
Ambika Samarthya-Howard
A Pivotal Moment for the US Refugee Resettlement Program
Keith Welch
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
All Together Now? African Americans, Immigrants, and the Future of California
Manuel Pastor, Juan De Lara, and Justin Scoggins
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration University of Southern California
Crossing Boundaries, Connecting Communities: Alliance Building for Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice
Rev. Deborah Lee et al.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Expanding Sanctuary: What Makes A City A Sanctuary Now?
Tania A. Unzueta
Racial Healing, Social Equity and Immigrant Integration in the American South: Lessons from Community Organizing for Community Philanthropy
Manuel Pastor
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California
What’s At Stake for the State: Undocumented Californians, Immigration Reform, and Our Future Together
Manuel Pastor and Enrico Marcelli
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California

History of Immigration in the United States

Mapping Race in America: United States Segregation
Othering & Belonging Institute
Haitians See History of Racist Policies in Migrant Treatment
Aaron Morrison, Astrid Galvan, and Jasen Lo
Associated Press News
Watch How Immigration in America Has Changed in the Last 200 Years
Alvin Chang
History of Racism and Immigration Time Line
Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice
Make History to Remember
Highlander Research and Education Center; Southeast Immigrant Rights Network; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Resources on the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Migration Policy Institute
The Ideological Alchemy of Contemporary Nativism: Revisiting the Origins of California’s Proposition 187
Daniel Martinez HoSang
Kalfou Journal
The Racist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Movement
Lee Cokorinos

Legislation and Policy

9/11’s Immigration Legacy
Julieta Martinelli, A. Salazar, and V. Estrada
Latino USA
2021 Immigration Action Plan
Endorsed by 173 Organizations
How Mississippi’s Black-Brown Strategy Beat the South’s Anti-Immigrant Wave
David Bacon
Reimagine! (RP&E Journal)
Refugee Resettlement in Metropolitan America
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Migration Information Source
We Too Belong: A Resource Guide of Inclusive Practices in Immigration and Incarceration Law and Policy
Stephen Menendian et al.
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

Organizing and Activism

Defending the Displaced: Border Justice & Migrant Rights
A. Salas, A. Maquitico, N. Gyamfi, I. Garcia, and E. Elsheikh
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR); Othering & Belonging Institute
State of Foundation Funding for the Pro-Immigrant Movement: A Movement Investment Project Brief
Ryan Schlegel, Stephanie Peng, and Timi Gerson et al.
Movement Investment Project; National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
Voice of Art - Migration Is Beautiful, Pt. 1
Favianna Rodriguez
Voice of Art - Migration Is Beautiful, Pt. 2
Favianna Rodriguez
Voice of Art - Migration Is Beautiful, Pt. 3
Favianna Rodriguez

Practices and Tools

American Dreaming: The Roadmap to Resilience for Undocumented Storytellers
S. E. Lowe, A. Escárate, and V. Rodriguez, et al.
Define American
Agenda for “Immigration Justice Movements in the Time of Trump”
Catalyst Project
Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice and LGBT Equality
Western States Center (WSC)
Until We Are All Free: Racial Justice Art and Story Sessions
Jidan Terry-Koon, Gerald Lenoir, Favianna Rodriguez, et al.
Mobilize the Immigrant Vote; CultureStrike; Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)

“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.”

~ Lilla Watson


Voice of Art - Migration Is Beautiful, Pt. 2 – Favianna Rodgriguez, iamOTHER

Also in this section:
  • Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

  • Criminal Justice

  • Education

  • Food Justice

  • Language Justice

  • Reparations

  • Voting Justice and Democracy Building

  • Children, Families, and Youth Development

  • Economic Development

  • Employment and Labor

  • Health and Healthcare

  • Media and Technology

  • Reproductive Justice

  • Community Planning: Land and Transportation

  • Economic Security

  • Environmental Justice

  • Housing

  • Philanthropy

  • Trauma, Violence, and Healing



In the context of racial equity work, accountability refers to the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible.

To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process. Invisibility defies examination; it is, in fact, employed in order to avoid detection and examination. Accountability demands commitment. It might be defined as “what kicks in when convenience runs out.” Accountability requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination of the two) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not always doing it right. Sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.

SOURCE:  Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work, Bonnie Berman Cushing with Lila Cabbil, Margery Freeman, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kimberly Richards (2010). 

Related Resources:  Accountability

Location: PLAN / Change Process

Black Lives Matter

A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. [Black Lives Matter] members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” 

SOURCE:  Black Lives Matter, “Herstory” (accessed 7 October 2019).


When people act to perpetuate oppression or prevent others from working to eliminate oppression. 

Example: Able-bodied people who object to strategies for making buildings accessible because of the expense.

SOURCE:  Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin (Routledge, 1997).

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.


  • Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).

  • City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

SOURCE:  Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Institutional Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Movement Building

Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time. Through movement building, organizers can:

  • Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems.

  • Enable people to exercise their collective power.

  • Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected.

  • Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign.

  • Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice, and democracy.

SOURCE:  Julie Quiroz-Martinez, From the Roots: Building the Power of Communities of Color to Challenge Structural Racism (Akonadi Foundation, 2010), citing the Movement Strategy Center, which offers these further definitions.

Related Resources:  Movement Building

Location: PLAN / Change Process


The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,

  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),

  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and

  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

SOURCE:  What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Racial Inequity

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing, such as the percentages of each ethnic group in terms of dropout rates, single family home ownership, access to healthcare, etc.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Racist Policies

A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Related Resources:  Laws and Policies

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / History of Racism and Movements

For specific topics, also see PLAN / Issues


States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

SOURCE:  International Center for Transitional Justice.

Related Resources:  Reparations

Location: PLAN / Issues

Structural Racism

  1. The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.

  2. For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.


  1. Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).

  2. Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Structural Racism

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

White Supremacy

The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

SOURCE: “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Related Resources:  System of White Supremacy and White Privilege and Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

Locations: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts and PLAN / Issues