Challenges and lessons on moving to work from home with immigrant populations

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Challenges and lessons on moving to work from home with immigrant populations

Why we are here

  • Challenge of organizing now, common challenges w broadband access and not being able to connect in physical spaces, want to hear how others are meeting the challenges
  • Working in a program to resource Central Valley communities, English learners and others. Given covid and fires there is a disconnect w what people need. How to tell the story to people who control the resources.
  • Local mostly offline community of people experiencing homelessness, want lessons on how to integrate people without access to tech in the WFH context--when home is a street corner
  • Working with a lot of groups like the facilitating org and funders aer pushing work around mutual aid but not addressing the preexisting core needs of access, infrastructure, language, etc
  • Same as above, want to talk to others about what;s working and what;'s not
  • Doing outreach to help people apply for food stamps, our work has been so impacted by covid, want to hear from other folks. Also worked on implmentation of CA's disaster relief payment for $500 for undocumented folks and so can share feelings
  • Solidarity, I am a child of immigrants and also serve immigrants through services I offer and push for outreach in my organizing work, want to figure out ways to do that better. Also shared values space.

Notes from discussion

  • Zero infrastructure help for orgs tasked with disaster relief. foundations also still want frontline groups to collect data data data, but still will not provide funds for infrastructure, ongoing capacity bldg
  • Advocacy, service, and leadership development--same populations, different programs, different needs results approaches even within the same organization--nevber one size fits all
  • Household worker program--can we organize with HH workers outside our general geographic area? Before ciovid we would have said hell no bc we used to ride busses with folks and be on the cornrners. Very place based. But then 100 people in Zoom call. Some good and some effed up factors caused that to happen. A lot of workers lost their jobs. ALso moms (fell on women) had to do childcare when schools closed. This work is so gendered and racialized and so has been the burden of the labor of learning the tech to participate and support kids in online school. That part is a challenge and an opportunity. We had people from MA on our calls!
  • We learned a lot from our work going to Zoom. People coming in in different ways. We had to take a lot of time from regular meetings to talk about how the tools work. Office workers/professional sphere people take for granted familiarity with the tools. IDEPSCA built toolkits to support people in learning and using the tools
  • Accessibility for folks on phone: chat and screenshare
  • Postal mail still useful to ensure that everyone has the same materials to work from!
  • Opportunity to look at accessibility in a different way--you really have to map out all the entry points people are using to get to you and your org.
  • Careful and targeted in person meetings to pass off materials. Also mutual aid and direct service--double up and use those to also distribute meeting agenda etc
  • Visibility of the failure of the state to be a safety net foreveryone. Orgs providing food, PPE, financial support. But NOT a charity, an organizing/advocacy group so how do we ensure we are also holding power structures accountable for the failure
  • PRACTICE--have a meeting that is just about how to get on a call and mute/unmute
  • Lots of advance planning needed to get information into people's hands--map all the ways people are coming in so you can ensure that all the information streams are the same and you are not creating inequities in how information is flowing in the membership
  • Digital literacy but also literacy literacy--language use, imagery to replace language, etc. What are the multiple ways people read and take in info? Comics, videos, social media.
  • Someone made a comic about coalition organizing and all the chisme (gossip) you need to know when engaging in this work
  • Major issues: access, bandwidth, language
    • Mumble (audio only with a chat function) is great but it is difficult to use. Support simultaneous interpretation, low bandwidth, multiple rooms.
    • Riseup pads are great but what if folks are on a flip phone?
    • Describe what people are seeing, not just where to find it--same as for peoplew visual impairments
    • Basic trainings
  • We should do trainings in primary language of people in the room but the funding for that is all gone
  • Has anyone found a good way to do simulaneous translation?
  • Govt meetings are not translated, we have to do the translations. Hard to give testimony in Spanish. When we don't control the access to tech it's extra hard to address.
  • One technique to level the field: do audio only on Zoom so people on the phone are having the same experience of people with computers.
  • When people are using secure chat to communicate organizing work, you can't participate wihtout a smartphone
  • Raise money for and just give people devices and hotspots
  • Hard to keep track of people bc they can't pay for their phones anymore--even hard to find people to give them $$
  • Zoom langage interpretation:
  • TRaining--IDEA it's an opportunity for peer training and it's a real leadership development activity
  • We still have to do in person organizing. It's dangerous and scary for everyone. A lot of people in our community are older and have chronic health conditions. Also old fashioned phone contact, talking to people. But it's not the same for relationship building.
  • Distributiing $ to undocumented people through the state program that had orgs do it--frustrating. State of CA came to my org and said you're the only org we think can help us biuld an app to take in this data in order to get $ to 150K people. $75 million for peoplr and $50 million for administration of the program. State and state systems are so disinvested and inder capacity that the state knew they could not do it. It just kept getting pushed down the stack to the local level. Working with the state, the priority was fraud prevention, not equity or actually getting the benefit to people. Local orgs were great and we tried to help with capacity. From talking to people we learned that we had to do the whole process--like an entire case management system that the local orgs could run reports on for their funders. When the state system design was supposed to be 1-1 where they would get a case # that the local folks could pull up. Having done capacity builing for 2 decades it's the same challenge of not having capacity and no one wanting to fund capacity building then bottom line we are not ready to help people.
  • In the above, phone systems crashed statewide. Such a clear lack of understanding (on part of govt and funders) of how immigrant communities live. Address cannot be meaningful for deduping. there are 5 households at the same address, it's not fraud (but state level people think it's fraud). Funders wanted documentation status to be PUT ON THE INTAKE FORM.They wanted to extract a ridiculous amount of data. And some other organizations were ok with it!
  • Text challenge, if you don't know who the fuck is texting you you are not going to respond.
  • Ppeople are getting picked up by ICE in front of labor sites. An unfamiliar text is cause for suspicion (and rightly so!). People need to ID themselves and also need to be able to be texted back.
  • People were ghetting cards with no money on them after multiple weeks of processing and jumping through hoops/
  • Orgs were not allowed to take any admin $ to support this

“Something very gendered” “burden of learning tech also falls on population”

What happened when everyone used just texts? Stingray happened; it's about resourcing people, there are cheaper smart phones, get hot spots; it's hard operationally