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Assessment Bay Area Immigrant Resources

Assessment of Bay Area Resources

In May 2020, undergraduate students in the UC Berkeley course, "Contemporary Immigration in Global Perspectives," taught by BIMI Founding Director, Dr. Irene Bloemraad, along with six undergraduate mentors wrote and presented original research reports in response to the global pandemic. The research focused on immigrants' access to services in five Bay Area counties - Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma - in addition to civic engagement in light of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election in November. Reports drew on US Census and government data along with interviews with local stakeholders and community service providers within each county. Presentations were featured at a virtual symposium entitled, "Who Counts? Civic Engagement and COVID-19 Services for Immigrants in the Bay Area" which gathered 70+ policymakers, researchers, local government officials, and community service providers to discuss unique challenges immigrant communities face in the pandemic.

The Collegium Fellowship supports the integration of research into the teaching of undergraduates. Each year, six Collegium Fellows are selected to mentor undergraduate students as they complete research complementing BIMI's ongoing projects. Read more about the Collegium Fellowship and past undergraduate student research here.


"Who Counts? Civic Engagement and COVID-19 Services for Immigrants in the Bay Area"


Impact of COVID-19 on Immigrants in Alameda County

This project examines how Alameda County’s immigrant population has been affected by COVID-19 by focusing on four key areas: education, employment, healthcare, and food accessibility. Through a case study of the Oakland Unified School District, they find that there is a need for more free lunch distribution sites and community internet hotspots for students in need of these services. The results show that foreign-born people’s employment has been affected by COVID-19 due to the high percentage of immigrant essential workers and layoffs in the county, making it all the more important for essential workers to be provided with proper PPE and for more economic relief for those affected. The report offers specific policy recommendations regarding ensuring the distribution of information about COVID-19 and testing and treatment in the county. The report also recommends that the county works with local organizations and programs to ensure the delivery of food to address food insecurity within the county. 


Essential Services in Contra Costa County in Times of a Pandemic

Through data analysis and interviews with local programs, student researchers assessed the healthcare, accessibility of food, education, and legal aid available to immigrants in Contra Costa County during COVID-19. They found that the foreign-born population in the county faces language barriers, a lack of information about the services available to them, transportation difficulties, and a lack of technology, making it difficult for immigrants to access crucial services during the pandemic. The findings in the report suggest establishing sites for the distribution of food directly within community spaces, opening more pathways for communication between service providers and community members that include translation services, and making technology more accessible to immigrants so that they are able to utilize the services that have moved online due to the pandemic.


Immigrants in San Francisco County During COVID-19

Student researchers assessed the accessibility and availability of medical and legal resources provided to immigrants in San Francisco during COVID-19. Through data analysis and an interview with a county official, they found that while there was a good amount of clinics in the county, there was a need for better accessibility. They found that there was a lack of clinics in immigrant-concentrated areas and issues with outreach attempts to immigrants. The student researchers offer specific policy recommendations focusing on improving accessibility of these clinics, such as expanding clinics in immigrant concentrated areas and using ethnic media for outreach.


San Mateo County Policy Project: Civic Engagement & Services 

The student researchers that looked at San Mateo county focused on health, legal, political engagement, and food security services. They gathered their research into a website to evaluate how these resources are being provided to immigrants in the county. Through interviews with local organizations and data from BIMI’s online mapping tool, this project concludes that there is a need to incorporate more immigration legal organizations directly within immigrant communities. This will result in building more trust in these services and making them more accessible to immigrants. The report recommends that health and legal services cater to the linguistic diversity of the county and communicate using multiple platforms of communication. These measures will provide pathways for accurate communication about the pandemic and for political engagement in the upcoming elections.


Immigrant Services in Sonoma County During COVID-19

Student researchers investigating Sonoma County’s services to the immigrant population during COVID-19 assessed the availability of financial assistance, food, health and legal clinics, and accurate information. After analyzing data and interviewing local mayors and community organizations, they found that there was an issue of availability as there were not many programs aimed at immigrants and not many resources accessible throughout the county. The student researchers recommend local governments to reach out to immigrant populations more directly by utilizing ethnic media and translating into more languages. They also recommend more community centers and legal aid clinics to be opened up.

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