Skip to main content

Author: Miguel de la Fuente Lau

What Resistance Looks Like: MAF’s DACA Campaign, a Year Later

The Trump administration blatantly targeted immigrants by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, 2017. Shocked and angered by his actions, we did not retreat. We stood up and fought back. With little time to waste, we quickly transformed ourselves into a rapid response grantmaker to help young immigrants through the uncertainty of the Trump-inflicted crisis.

We launched a campaign to enable eligible youth to renew their DACA status by offering grants of $495 to help cover application fees.

And when a federal judge in California issued an injunction that ruled the Trump administration’s decision unconstitutional months later, opening the door for more Dreamers to renew DACA, we kept on processing grants, giving young immigrants the support and love that this government was denying.

For college students making minimum wage, $495 can mean choosing between DACA or paying for rent. That’s a choice we didn’t want them to have to make.

That’s why we provided 7,600 fee assistance grants totaling $3.8 million to Dreamers across the country. This was a defining moment of resistance for DACA, and for ourselves.

As the federal courts continue to fight over the future of DACA, we stay vigilant. At this year’s Summit, activists, advocates, and allies across the country will come together to explore how our communities can thrive in Trump’s America. We believe Dreamers will help lead the way. We’re inviting them to share with us their stories of resilience, stories that can inspire and energize us all for the long haul.

Today we remember the work by highlighting stories from our DACA grant recipients that will motivate us for years to come.

Deportation, Stress, and Fear

Over the past couple months, we’ve heard many of our clients pour out their fears and concerns over their future. The threat of deportation looms large for so many immigrant families, causing real anxiety and stress not only on parents, but their children.

A new research article released by the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, “Facing the Fear of Deportation“, visually captures the traumatic impact this has on families.

In today’s political climate, undocumented immigrant communities feel targeted and vulnerable, afraid that their families will get torn apart. The stress and anxiety this creates for the children of immigrants is especially high.

As we detailed in our series of posts unpacking data we collected on our DACA clients, the burden is already great for many families who are worried about meeting basic, daily financial needs.

But for many immigrant parents, getting mental health support for their children can be equally challenging. The search to receive the right kind of mental health services might only increase the feeling of stress and anxiety for the entire family.

We’re doing what we can at MAF to ensure that families have the potential for financial health and stability by creating access to financial products and services. But we need to keep building a broad base of partnerships so there are no barriers for immigrant families in receiving support from community-based organizations and agencies with the capacity to provide critical mental health services.


*All infographics created and published by the online MSW program at the University of Southern California.

Ventanilla: A Window of Opportunity

Mission Asset Fund (MAF) and the Mexican Consulates of San Francisco and San Jose have joined forces to support the economic empowerment of Mexican nationals across northern California and the State of Hawaii. This covers individuals across Northern California, including those in the Counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey and in Hawaii. Modeled after New York City’s Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera—meaning “Financial Empowerment Window”—the program provides customized financial empowerment services and resources at the two Consulates.

Since January of 2017, MAF has provided financial presentations, workshops, and coaching sessions to approximately 2,000 individuals per month at each site. By the end of the first year of the Ventanilla program, MAF served 30,000 clients —more than doubling our goal.

By establishing partnerships in both the nonprofit and public sectors, MAF has extended a variety of financial education services to meet our communities’ unique needs.

  • We dedicate staff for mobile consulate trips once a month – making sure that hard-to-reach communities like Kona, Hawaii and Pescadero, CA are getting access to the services they need.
  • We provide on-site access to Lending Circles, a 0% interest loan program, that helps people build their credit.
  • We invite outside presenters to regularly lead workshops (talleres) on topics supporting entrepreneurship in immigrant communities, including organizations from SFEDA. We coordinated content and presentations for two Financial Education weeks in March and November.
  • Our partnership with the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) led to the development of a handout in both English and Spanish to help clients in the Bay Area determine the best checking account options to open. During Financial Education Week, OFE brought in speakers from the IRS to talk to Ventanilla visitors about Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs. OFE also helped us coordinate referrals to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) providers across the Bay Area, a service that offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.
  • We worked closely with the San Jose Consulate, which has launched a collaboration with CONDUSEF in Mexico to provide an overview of financial education and products based in Mexico. This was immensely helpful because everyday we have families that come to us with questions about managing their finances in both the U.S. and Mexico. Because of the Ventanilla collaboration, we were able to provide clients with information through our FEAPI, CONDUSEF, and the Consulate. Without the Ventanilla, these families would have struggled to find the answers to their questions from the Consulates alone or from financial providers in Mexico.

Under the current administration, many immigrants are in emergency planning mode because they are concerned about deportation. MAF sprung to action and created a Financial Emergency Action Plan for Immigrants (FEAPI) to help immigrants protect their finances in the case of an emergency like detention, deportation, or family separation.

We provided this toolkit in the Bay Area at the Consulates, and at mobile consulate visits throughout California and Hawaii. To capture an even wider net of people to help, our team is currently building the FEAPI into an app to increase engagement with our community.

Come by and visit us! We have staff on-site in San Jose and San Francisco, Monday through Friday:

The success of MAF’s Ventanilla programs help us deliver on our promise to “meet clients where they are.” We’re planning on exceeding our own expectations, as we look to serve thousands of low-income and immigrant individuals through our Consulate sites in the upcoming year with financial education, coaching, tax-time savings, and 0% interest loans.