Alternative Title

Philanthropy and Immigration Enforcement

Publication Date

Winter 1-31-2018


Uniquely positioned in our American democracy, foundations hold private resources they leveraged to promote their private values within our public arena. The independence of foundations, primarily private and family foundations, allows them to exert influence over public policy down to the local delivery of public good and services. An understudied policy area pertains to understanding how philanthropic funding impacts immigration policy and local enforcement. This report focuses on studying how philanthropic funding for immigration services is associated with reducing the identification of deportable immigrants, during Secure Communities. As foundations leverage their private resources to help fund nonprofits that promote their private values, immigration-related giving was not a highly funded issue for the philanthropic community during the rise of detentions and deportations. During the era of Secure Communities (2008 through 2014), there was an average of 81,000 grant-making foundations in the United States which gifted a little over 378 billion dollars across a variety of nonprofits and policy issues. From this $378 billion only 1.85 billion in philanthropic grants were designated for immigration-related services within the forty-eight continental United States and the District of

Columbia. Foundations awarded the nonprofit community with $84 per non-citizen over a seven- year period. Yearly, nonprofits operated with an average of 11 dollars of philanthropic funding for every non-citizen in their community, an amount that is unlikely able to provide any long- term integration services and much less for access legal representation.

The philanthropic funding given to nonprofits concentrates in specific areas of the U.S. Ranking by aggregated philanthropic funding, the top three counties are the District of Columbia ($270 million), New York County ($259 million), and Los Angeles County ($216 million). The top three states are California ($616 million), New York ($317 million), and the District of Columbia ($270 million).

Document Type



Nonprofit Administration and Management | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


SMU Tower Center and Latino Center for Leadership and Development