The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles. As a multiethnic coalition of community organizations and individuals, CHIRLA aims to foster greater understanding of the issues that affect immigrant communities, provide a neutral forum for discussion, and unite immigrant groups to more effectively advocate for positive change.To further increase these goals, CHIRLA:
- Educates community members about issues that affect immigrants and refugees.
- Organizes immigrants around important social issues.
- Provides legal representation and support network for immigrants and refugees.
- Participates in national, state, and local advocacy to inform public policy on topics that impact immigrant welfare.
- Implements an extensive referral system.
- Works to improve race and ethnic human relations in Los Angeles and other areas throughout Southern California.
- Provides extensive referral services via it's bilingual hotline to the immigrant community, service providers and community leaders.
CHIRLA was formed in 1986 in response to the Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). It was an effort to (1) get as many people as possible through the amnesty program established by IRCA and (2) monitor and document post-IRCA discrimination. It was originally housed in the United Way building at 621 South Virgil Avenue and was staffed solely by volunteers. United Way donated the resources CHIRLA needed to operate. Among the founding organizations were APALC, MALDEF, Dolores Mission, the L.A. Center of Law and Justice, and various legal services organizations.
The newly formed organization consisted of a steering committee and a number of other committees, the chairs of which were members. Monthly general meetings were held to debate issues, take positions, and strategize. Soon enough the steering committee received some funding and hired some staff to work on communications, monitoring the implementation of employer sanctions, and do administrative work. At this point CHIRLA was still running by a steering committee and had no executive director.
Within a few years, however, it became clear that CHIRLA was growing and would need to become independent from United Way. Frank Acosta was hired as the first executive director as the need for more serious fundraising became apparent. Eventually CHIRLA left United Way and received its 501(c)(3) (i.e. non profit) status. This meant that CHIRLA had to form a board of directors, which also meant grappling with the possible shift in power from the member-based steering committee to the legally mandated board. The key was to have a board without losing the coalition dynamic which had guided CHIRLAâ€™s work up to this point.
Meanwhile, committees came and went with the ebb and flow of issues, participation, and other factors. For instance what was once the â€œLegalization Committeeâ€ (and dealt directly with the legalization program under IRCA) became the â€œLegal Services Committeeâ€ and broadened its scope. The Committee on the Undocumented was also created. It was in this committee that CHIRLA was asked on various occasions to help address the problems of the day laborer corners. After attempting and failing to find members or other community based organizations which could take this work on, CHIRLA began what would eventually become the Day Laborer Project. The origins of the Domestic Workers Association and the Sidewalk Vending Coalition were similar. While the Domestic Workers and Day Laborer Project are still housed at CHIRLA, the Sidewalk Vending Coalition is housed in CARECEN, a member organization.
2533 W. Third St., Ste. 101
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Fax (213) 353-1344
CHIRLA's hotline provides a bi-lingual Spanish/English information and referral service. The hotline provides information on access to services, immigration, workers rights, and all other types of information pertaining to the immigrant community.