The Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition was formed in 2006 by Cal State Long Beach Professors Dr. Kris Zentgraf and Dr. Norma Chinchilla. That spring, millions of immigrants joined together in protests in city centers around the country, including Los Angeles. Traveling back and forth on the Blue Line train and seeing the same faces again and again, it became clear that there was a large need for services directed to immigrants in Long Beach itself.
The Coalition began as a service organization- offering legal assistance and providing access to resources and information on immigration issues– filling in the gaps for services that didn’t exist. The network began to grow, including local churches, community groups, and leaders.
As immigration reform grew on a larger level, the Coalition began entering into more political advocacy, hiring organizers to engage the community, and working for change within the city and state. Many programs grew from community necessity; the free ESL classes came at a time of huge cuts in Adult Education, for instance.
The Coalition today works with various groups in the city and state to achieve its mission of a more just immigration policy for all. We work through education, service, and advocacy, and are continually growing, thanks to grants and fundraising. The Coalition is small in size, but enormous in its reach, a testament to the hard work and vision of its founders.
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