9 Best Charities for Helping Undocumented Immigrants (Complete 2021 List)

9 Best Charities for Helping Undocumented Immigrants (Complete 2021 List)

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Dennis Kamprad

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The estimated number of undocumented immigrants in the US alone is 10.5 to 12 million – making up about 3.2%–3.6% of the overall population. And undocumented or not, they are valuable members of society. Not only do they embody diversity and enrich our culture, but they also contribute to the labor force and economy. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for helping undocumented immigrants?

The best charities for helping undocumented immigrants are United We Dream and Movimiento Cosecha as some platforms for immigrant empowerment and Immigrants Rising with their focus on desperately needed legal services. In addition, Define American helps to humanize the conversation on immigration.

Whether you want to help undocumented immigrants overcome the numerous barriers they face in society or help them to live a more peaceful, just, and orderly life, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for xx are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Helping Undocumented Immigrants Have in Common

All of the charities mentioned in this article are working towards stopping the alienation of undocumented immigrants. And, instead, promote ways to integrate immigrants into society – legally and otherwise – so that all immigrants get the chance to become full members of society. Just as they deserve to be.

These charities offer assistance in areas of education, human rights, legal support, and due process. Their programs and projects are stepping stones to fairer treatment, open opportunities, and a just legal system for undocumented immigrants.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Helping Undocumented Immigrants

Below are our favorite charities for helping undocumented immigrants (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

United We Dream: Transforming Fear Into a Voice

United We Dream is a youth-led community for undocumented immigrants in the United States to help people discover their voices, leadership capabilities, and advocacies. It was established in 2008 by Cristina Jiménez as an advocacy group for immigrant youth and family members. They help undocumented immigrants develop leadership and they also organize campaigns for rights and justice for immigrants.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The organization has an overall Charity Navigator rating of 100%. They also have a silver star rating from GuideStar.

“We create welcoming spaces for young people – regardless of immigration status – to support, engage, and empower them to make their voice heard and win!”

United We Dream

What they do: United We Dream allocates their resources to several causes for undocumented immigrants in the areas of education, leadership, immigrant protection, and community stability. They also conduct campaign training and critical thinking exercises for racial justice. In addition, they include indigenous groups, social justice movements for women, and the LGBTQ community of immigrant groups. 

What they’ve achieved: United We Dream have provided vital education – especially about their rights, mental health, and overall wellness – to over 4 million undocumented immigrants via their online programs. In addition to their 400,000 members that they reach and help locally. They have also garnered the support of 1000 schools to make education accessible to undocumented students.

Ways to contribute: You can support United We Dream via monthly and one-time donations directly on their website. You can also be an active member of the organization through their petitions and campaigns. If you have propositions you want to make to the charity, you may do so too by submitting petitions and actions through their website. 

Define American: Where Everyone Belongs

Define American was founded in 2011 by Jake Brewer and Jose Antonio Vargas to serve as a power of narrative to improve discourse about immigrants. It focuses on changing culture through news, entertainment, and digital media to humanize conversations about undocumented immigrants. The organization uses stories to influence politics and lobby for the identity and citizenship of immigrants in America. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Their overall Charity Navigator rating is 97% and the same rating applies for its accountability and transparency. And they have a silver seal from GuideStar. Additionally, it is one of Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in the world. 

“We humanize the conversation on immigration through television consulting, original content development and production, media advocacy, and live events.”

Define American

What they do: Define American focuses on getting involved in the entertainment industry to include realistic immigrant characters to promote positive cultural change. It also offers its research and resources to entertainment industry creatives for viewers to understand immigrants in America. The organization also launches information campaigns to bring awareness about the issues faced by undocumented immigrants. 

What they’ve achieved: With just about each of their project, Define American reaches millions of viewers. The charity has consulted over 90 television and film projects across 23 streaming platforms and entertainment networks such as Walt Disney, Netflix, and Warner Bros. They have also conducted the Define American Film Festival to showcase content about undocumented immigrants and their identity. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Define American (they even have a flexible donation schedule). They also sell t-shirts, phone cases, and caps through their online store to normalize conversations and break misconceptions about undocumented immigrants. And, they accept planned will and testament giving too – for a personal legacy of advocacy. 

Movimiento Cosecha: Protection, Dignity, and Respect for Undocumented Immigrants

Movimiento Cosecha was launched in 2015 as a movement dedicated to uplifting respect and protection for millions of undocumented immigrants in America. Their name translates to “harvest movement” and symbolizes their aim to honor undocumented immigrants who have been working hard to feed the nation. They now have a network of volunteers to support the movement. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: 100% of their donations are given to undocumented immigrants affected by crises through its Undocumented Workers Fund. Applicants for the fund are reviewed by regional committees to ensure proper redistribution of the fund. 

“We believe that in order to win real protection for our communities, we need to mobilize millions of active supporters—by polarizing the American people to take an active stance on immigration issues.”

Movimiento Cosecha

What they do: Movimiento Cosecha aims to encourage undocumented immigrants to become active in noncooperative means in promoting protection, dignity, and respect. They inform the general public about the vital role of undocumented immigrants as members of the labor sector to feed the country. They also advance political education for members who want to be educated about their advocacy.

What they’ve achieved: Through their Undocumented Workers Fund, Movimiento Consecho have helped more than 1,000 families across the country with health care, employment, insurance, and emergency aid. In doing so, they distributed up to $300,000 to 1000 households for these basic needs. They have also established the Movimiento Cosecha National Political Education Committee to support the movement with vital educational materials.

Ways to contribute: To make a stand with Movimiento Cosecha, you can donate directly through their website. You may also support their projects such as Paper, Not Crumbs that help advance the government’s legislation on immigration reform.

National Immigrant Justice Center: A Heartland Alliance Program

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is an organization that dedicates its legal services to ensure human rights and access to justice for undocumented immigrants. It is part of the Heartland Alliance’s, whose missions for helping immigrants started in the year 1908. Nowadays, the NIJC are headquartered in Chicago and address the legal needs of undocumented immigrants by connecting them with their network of pro bono lawyers.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The organization has a success rate of 90% in obtaining asylum for undocumented immigrants. 

“We provide comprehensive legal services to low-income immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.”

National Immigrant Justice Center

What they do: The National Immigration Justice Center provides direct legal service for undocumented immigrants through litigation, education, policy reform, and their network of pro bono lawyers. Their lawyers aim to educate undocumented immigrants about the rights accorded to them as well as the services they can seek in case of arrest or detention by the Department of Homeland Security. The NIJC has hosted the Human Rights Awards that brings together business, civic, and community leaders to provide funding for the protection for the rights of undocumented immigrants. They also have the Immigration Court Helpdesk Hotline for unaccompanied and undocumented children, LGBTQ members, immigration detainees, and asylum seekers. 

What they’ve achieved: The National Immigrant Justice Center dedicate their services to more than 10,000 undocumented immigrants each year. In their 3 decades of service, they have positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. And, as stated above, they have a success rate of 90% in obtaining asylum for undocumented immigrants. 

Ways to contribute: To become one with the National Immigrant Justice Center’s mission to legally protect undocumented immigrants, you can make a one-time or monthly donation directly through their website. You are also welcome to launch a fundraiser on behalf of NIJC for the benefit of undocumented immigrants. If you wish to offer pro bono legal services, you may do so as the organization is always open for more lawyers to join their advocacy. They are also open for internships, sponsorships from private companies, and legal information sessions with schools, congregations, and communities. 

Immigrant Defense Project: For Fairness and Justice

The Immigrant Defense Project was established in 2001 as a platform against the mass imprisonment and deportation of undocumented immigrants. The organization offers legal advice, litigation, policy reform, community defense, and communications. The IDP’s advocacy is inspired by their claim that no one is disposable and that they will continue to fight for undocumented immigrants. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Along with Mijente and MediaJustice, the Immigrant Defense Project has been engaged in launching the COVID-19 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Project to ensure that government agencies and technology companies are not using surveillance to increase deportation and criminalization. In 2009, the IDP also took part in creating the Justice Roadmap which contains bills that address the effects of criminal and immigration systems.

“We believe that in order to win real protection for our communities, we need to mobilize millions of active supporters—by polarizing the American people to take an active stance on immigration issues.”

Movimiento Cosecha

What they do: The Immigrant Defense Project seeks to suggest just laws for undocumented immigrants in the state through litigation. They also offer training for aspiring immigration lawyers and community advocates. The IDP’s policy rests on the fact that all undocumented immigrants deserve rights, protection, and respect. The organization also works closely with impacted immigrant communities to address their needs. 

What they’ve achieved: So far, the Immigrant Defense Project has been consistent in coordinating with law firms and non-profit organizations in pursuit of meaningful immigration reform. They have also advocated for the New York For All Act which aims to put a stop to the detrimental impact of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on immigrants.

Ways to contribute: If you want to stand by the IDP to protect undocumented immigrants, you may do so by direct donations (they offer both one-time and monthly options). And, they also accept donations in the form of checks – just in case.

American Immigration Council: Honoring our Immigrant Past, Shaping our Immigrant Future

The American Immigration Council (AIC), formerly known as the American Immigration Law Foundation, was founded in 1987 as a nonprofit and advocacy group to help make the immigration justice system in America more just. The AIC also supports undocumented immigrants who are in need of protection. Furthermore, they aim to strengthen diversity and promote fair immigration laws. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The American Immigration Council has an overall Charity Navigator rating of 92.05 with a 93 rating for accountability and transparency. 

“The Council believes that immigrants are part of our national fabric, bringing energy and skills that benefit all Americans. We envision an America that values fairness and justice for immigrants and advances a prosperous future for all.”

American Immigration Council

What they do: One of the main objectives of the American Immigration Council is to fight against misinformation about undocumented immigrants for fairer political and public debate. They also aid immigration lawyers through legal assistance and education. They participate in litigation to help undocumented immigrants defend themselves under a court of law. Additionally, the AIC brings forth lawsuits to make the government accountable in cases of unlawful interpretations of the law applied in immigration issues. 

What they’ve achieved: Through the American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign, they have assisted thousands of undocumented immigrants held in detention centers by providing them with legal counsel. The Council aims to promote fairness and justice for immigrants through lawsuits that will make the government accountable for injustices. With thorough research and analysis, the AIC is able to debunk myths and misinformation against immigrants.

Ways to contribute: If you believe in the AIC’s advocacy to uplift undocumented immigrants, they are open for one-time, monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly donations. The AIC also accepts donations via mail and you may do so by following these guidelines. Furthermore, you may shop online at several participating stores (Amazon, iGive, and Goodshop), and donate a percentage of your purchase to the organization. Alternatively, the AIC also accepts gifts in the form of stocks and tributes

National Immigration Forum: Helping Immigrants to Succeed and Contribute

The National Immigration Forum was founded in 1982 by Rick Swartz and Phyllis Eisen to advocate for the importance of immigrants in America. The organization tackles federal immigration solutions in engaging in alliances with constituencies across the country. NIF is currently based in Washington D.C.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The NIF has a Charity Navigator rating of 91.68 and 92 for accountability and transparency.

“The National Immigration Forum advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to our nation.”

National Immigration Forum

What they do: The National Immigration Forum has four priority concerns to bridge policy and politics for all citizens: Immigration reform and workforce needs (for immigration policies to serve the national interest and meet the needs of the economy, workers, and families); integration and citizenship (for creating opportunities for immigrants to succeed and contribute); borders and interior enforcement (for developing fiscally responsible and humane policies); and state and local immigration developments (for promoting immigration law and enforcement as federal responsibility).

What they’ve achieved: Each year, the National Immigration Forum gives the Keepers of the American Dream award to leaders and organizations creating a better place for immigrants. The National Immigration Forum also holds an annual Leading the Way summit, where more than 1,000 people join in pursuit of better immigration policies. And to increase their impact across different areas of life, they are engaged in the George W. Bush Institute and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to discuss America’s history as a nation of immigrants.

Ways to contribute: To become part of NIF’s fight for immigration justice, you may send in your one-time or monthly donations through their online platform. 

The Young Center for Immigrants Children’s Rights: Standing in the Justice Gap

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights was founded in 2004 to champion the needs of undocumented and unaccompanied immigrant children. The charity is active in deportation cases and detention centers to guide, protect, and educate children. Their programs are geared towards a better and fairer children’s immigrant justice system.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Young Center for Immigrant Children Rights charity has an overall Charity Navigator and overall rating of 100%.

“The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights protects and advances the rights and best interests of immigrant children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and state and federal law.”

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

What they do: Through their Child Advocate Program, the Young Center for Immigrants Children’s Rights supports the children’s best interests and safety. The advocates personally speak with immigrant children to learn about their stories and to come up with suitable solutions to their needs. The organization also conducts policy advocacy with Congress and federal agencies to incorporate children’s rights in immigration laws. 

What they’ve achieved: The Young Center for Immigrants Children’s Rights has advocated for more than 2,500 children across the country. According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), 70% of the organization’s recommendations have been adopted by the receiving entity. Since 2004, the charity has been managing an independent child advocate program with the Office of Refugee Settlement to help child advocates accompany children and victims of trafficking. 

Ways to contribute: If you’re a person who believes that every child has the right to be protected, educated, and assisted, you are welcome to make donations to the organization. They also accept contributions from donor-advised funds as well as gifts in the form of stocks. You may also choose to be a Child Advocate in selected locations in the country through their volunteer program. As a Child Advocate, you will become a companion to an unchaperoned immigrant child during deportation proceedings. 

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law: Migrants Make America Great

The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) was established in 1980 as a non-profit legal foundation to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants. They focus on offering services in litigation, constitutional law, and policy advocacy. In addition, their employees analyze issues that impact undocumented immigrants and vulnerable communities. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The center has a Charity Navigator score of 100% in accountability and transparency and an overall score of 75%. 

“To protect and further the legal, civil, human, and constitutional rights of undocumented immigrants.”

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law

What they do: The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has launched programs to help undocumented immigrants in a multitude of ways. For example, they have pioneered the Tent-4-Homeless program to offer refuge to homeless immigrants. In addition, the organization utilizes the Casa Libre Mansion as a transitional shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children from federal custody. Moreover, the CHRCL aims to reunify undocumented immigrant youth with their families through Project Reunify.

What they’ve achieved: The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law is the only organization with permission to visit every detention site in the country to ensure that all children are treated fairly. In 1985, the CHRCL achieved a milestone by winning the Flores case where they defended the mistreatment of undocumented immigrants in federal custody. Through the case’s settlement agreement, it was established that immigrant children are also entitled to child welfare protection.

Ways to contribute: To help the CHRCL with their advocacy, you may send them donations for federal litigation and child protection services. The organization is also open for volunteers to assist their personnel in their projects and programs. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for helping undocumented immigrants. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to helping undocumented immigrants – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

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