Local non-profit focuses on helping undocumented residents when disaster hits
UndocuFund – which is founded in Ventura County – is co-hosting a summit, during the start of peak wildfire season, focusing on helping undocumented Californians during disasters.
For the first time, leaders from over 30 grassroots immigrant-serving organizations across California that responded to the pandemic and other disasters will get together for the summit.
"805 UndocuFund was created in 2018 when the Thomas Fire hit Santa Barbara County and Ventura Counties," explained María Melo, Executive Director of the Central Coast non-profit 805 UndocuFund.
Melo says that undocumented workers contribute billions to the economy, yet are often excluded from federal disaster aid.
"A lot of our farmworkers and different immigrant communities were not being serviced when disaster hit," said said.
"More than 35 organizations across California came up with a response to the pandemic so we're bringing them all together to figure out what we could do better," she said.
This convening is an opportunity for immigrant organizations across California to come together and explore long-term policies to reduce the vulnerability of undocumented communities during climate crisis induced disasters, she explained.
California is home to 10.6 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) who comprise 27 percent of California’s population. Recent data shows that one in five children in the state are U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (1.7 million children in total).
“When COVID -19 hit, dozens of trusted immigrant organizations were there to distribute nearly $100 million in mutual aid financial relief to more than 40,000 excluded California immigrant households”, said Melo. “Before that, we also responded to wildfire after wildfire. It’s time to take action: disaster relief and recovery doesn’t begin for anyone until everyone is truly included.”
The first-ever State UndocuFund Summit hosted by 805 UndocuFund, UndocuFund, and Latino Community Foundation, calling for equitable disaster relief, takes place from September 18-20th.