Ten-month-old Mia Molina lifts her ball in the air. Uncertain, she looks back to her parents, silently asking if it is safe. Warmed by her mother’s smile, by the knowledge that her parents are there watching out for her, she grabs it confidently, ready to discover the joys and secrets it holds.

Ianai and Jesus Molina have lived in the U.S. since they were a little older than Mia. But, like nearly 1 million other Angelenos, they have no legal documentation. Thanks to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides work permits and protection from deportation for immigrants who were brought to the country as children, they have been able to come out of the shadows, to build a life in the open for themselves and their daughter, who holds U.S. citizenship.

But changes in Washington have left DACA’s future in jeopardy, along with the Molinas’. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. Getting deported is a huge fear,” Jesus said. “I’ve lived here since I was five years old. I’m basically American. I don’t know any other home.”

As Angelenos, the immigrant spirit defines our culture and economy. One in three L.A. residents was born in another country, and most immigrants have been here for over a decade. Every year, they contribute more than $230 billion to our economy. Everyone is enriched by their imagination, entrepreneurship and dedication. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, the proud parents sitting next to us at the PTA meeting.

The California Community Foundation (CCF) has long been committed to empowering immigrants to integrate into the civic, social and economic life of Los Angeles. As the tide of anti-immigrant rhetoric has risen across the country, we joined with government and the private sector to protect the rights and futures of these vital communities.

In response to threats of mass deportations that could tear families apart and devastate our communities and economy, CCF, Weingart Foundation and the City and County of Los Angeles committed more than $7 million to create the L.A. Justice Fund. By supporting legal representation for individuals and families facing deportation, this innovative fund seeks to protect due process and preserve the civil rights of all Angelenos.

Anabella Bastida is the executive director of the Council on Mexican Federations (COFEM), which works to ensure immigrants can fully participate in social, political and economic life. She sees this type of partnership as indispensable. “There is insecurity, but at the same time, there is hope, because allies are standing for and with immigrants.”

CCF, COFEM and a network of nonprofits and media partners collaborated to educate, motivate and assist L.A. legal permanent residents in applying for U.S. citizenship through ¡Protégete!…¡Ciudadanía Ya!/Endless Possibilities. Since 2015, this initiative has helped thousands of individuals and families transform not just their own futures, but those of their children, grandchildren and generations to come by becoming U.S. citizens. Through naturalization, residents gain access to higher wages, security from deportation and the ability to contribute to the well-being of their communities.

CCF’s Council on Immigrant Integration has brought together public- and private-sector partners to provide leadership on immigrant integration since 2009. This year, the Council successfully encouraged L.A. County to create an Office of Immigrant Affairs, a lasting commitment by County government to defend immigrants, legal and undocumented, and to create the kind of programs that help them succeed.

“We stand united in defending, protecting and fighting for our immigrant communities and the incredible contributions they make to Los Angeles County,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “Everyone benefits when our vulnerable populations can access justice, dignity and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

The partnerships of today are an investment toward the shared prosperity of tomorrow. For Ianai and Jesus, that future is for their baby and all our children.

“As a whole community, everybody is standing up for something,” Ianai said. “Seeing Mia grow up is what’s going to keep us alive, here and fighting for our family.”

To learn more about CCF’s work to protect and empower immigrant communities, visit

California Community Foundation – 2017 Annual Report