The Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) at Stanford University recently completed a nationwide study examining the distribution of immigration legal services providers (ISPs). Their work analyzes where low-income immigrant populations live in relation to ISPs, which provide critical services for immigrants, like helping them with complicated legal processes related to living and working in the U.S. Understanding the great need to help this population, Stanford Immigration Policy Lab chose to partner with Aunt Bertha for this research and shared their comprehensive database of over 2,000 ISPs to be listed on Aunt Bertha’s free online resource, findhelp.org.
How Aunt Bertha meets Stanford Immigration Policy Lab’s needs:
- Aunt Bertha’s extensive database lists thousands of immigrant services, ranging from translation services to legal assistance and much more;
- Aunt Bertha provides a quick and easy search for anyone to find help for free. It also provides tools for sharing programs with loved ones and connecting directly with programs; and
- Aunt Bertha’s team reviews and maintains resources every six months to ensure people looking for help have the right information.
About the Immigration Policy Lab
With branches at Stanford University and ETH Zurich, Stanford’s Immigration Policy Lab uses large datasets, creative research designs, and cutting-edge analytical tools to bring new evidence to bear on the urgent problems practitioners face. By guiding the people who set public policy, as well as those who directly serve low-income immigrant communities, their research inspires solutions that improve immigrants’ lives and strengthen the communities receiving them.
Aunt Bertha’s Impact on the Network of ISPs
The goal of IPL’s project was to create a comprehensive list of organizations in the U.S. that provide free or reduced-cost assistance with official immigration-related documents or forms (e.g., naturalization or DACA applications) and legal representation in immigration proceedings. This data would effectively reveal where low-income immigrant communities do not have reasonable access to critical services.
In their working paper, IPL researchers write,
“Immigrants often navigate legal challenges most citizens never encounter, such as renewing visas, petitioning for family reunification, pursuing naturalization, or defending themselves against deportation in immigration courts.”
The IPL study underscores the importance of these programs to this population and the importance of having a resource like findhelp.org to find these programs.
IPL reached out to Aunt Bertha about a research partnership after exploring findhelp.org and finding a number of ISPs in the Aunt Bertha program database. Understanding the great value of IPL’s research, Aunt Bertha shared data on existing immigrant service organizations in their database to help the IPL team map where low-income immigrant legal services were located in relation to need. The IPL team added these organizations to a larger list compiled from multiple sources in an attempt to create a complete listing of ISPs across the country. Aunt Bertha is now working to list every ISP included in the comprehensive database constructed by the Stanford team. Through this work, immigrants across the nation can use findhelp.org to connect to an ISP in their community.
Stanford’s Research Findings
Once equipped with the combined data from the Department of Justice, the Immigration Advocates Network, and Aunt Bertha, the Stanford research team was interested to find out whether there were communities that were overserved or underserved. Finding areas with gaps in the provision of services to low-income immigrants could help governments, funders, and service providers more effectively invest their resources in the communities that could most benefit from additional support.
The Stanford research team found that most immigrants whose household income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines live close to an ISP but that there are underserved areas in southern cities that have more recently become a popular destination for immigrants. Their analysis suggests that rearranging the distribution of ISPs across the nation would provide access to over one million more low-income immigrants nationwide.
Aunt Bertha’s unique database of hundreds of thousands of social service programs and nationwide search data provides an opportunity to obtain important insights regarding individuals seeking help. As part of our public benefit mission, we seek out opportunities to leverage our data with partners, like Stanford’s Immigration Policy Lab, to enhance our collective understanding of how we best help people seeking services.