April 1, 2022
Since the late 1980s, many policymakers and members of the American public have viewed enforcement as the principal tool of the United States immigration system, either to deter migrants from coming to the country without papers or to punish immigrants who (intentionally or unintentionally) fail to comply with immigration law. As a result, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are arrested and placed in deportation proceedings, or otherwise removed from the U.S., with a disproportionate impact on Black immigrants.Before we launched our strategy in 2015, we listened closely to our grantees whose constituents were directly affected by detentions and deportations that persisted despite policymakers' avowed support for immigrants. Recognizing that immigrants' needs for family unity and an end to harsh enforcement were unlikely to be met through comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, the Immigrant Rights portfolio focused on supporting advocates working on enforcement reform and their goals. In making this commitment, Ford was the first major U.S. philanthropy to establish ending harsh enforcement as a principal focus of its immigrant rights strategy.Over a matter of five years, we invested nearly $118 million in organizations working to achieve changes in advocacy and policy, build the field, and shift the narrative around immigrants. This included approximately $43 million invested through our BUILD initiative and approximately $23 million distributed through our 2020 Social Justice Bond. We provided general support to organizations representing immigrants directly impacted by harsh enforcement, as well as to longstanding grantees who were using litigation, mobilization, advocacy, and communications as tactics that reinforced one another. Other funding helped the movement confront strategic gaps and challenges, draw on expert advice, bring organizations together for collaborative learning, and strengthen philanthropic partnerships.In the fall of 2020, we partnered with consultants Kathleen Sullivan and David Shorr to evaluate this strategy, deepen our learning, and make informed decisions on where to focus moving forward. The evaluation concluded in spring 2021.