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Final Lines of Defense: Explaining Policy Advocacy by Immigrant-Serving Organizations

Maria Apolonia Calderon, Daniel E. Chand, Daniel P. Hawes
Published: 1 December 2020

Abstract: Nonprofit scholars have developed a rich literature on nonprofit advocacy. While the literature is rich, however, gaps remain in our collective knowledge, especially regarding specific sectors of nonprofit human service organizations. Here, we apply existing theory on advocacy by human service organizations to an important subset of the nonprofit community, that being immigrant-serving organizations (ISOs). Most prior research on nonprofit advocacy has not focused on politically polarized issues, such as contemporary immigration policy. Using a nationwide survey of ISOs, we find that unlike other types of human service organizations, the majority of ISOs do engage in at least some forms of policy advocacy. However, those that report using the H-election status on their Form 990s are significantly more likely to engage in advocacy and do so to a wide variety of policymakers, including legislators, chief executives, and even local law enforcement agencies. H-election groups are also more likely to perceive their advocacy activities as effective. These findings add to the evolving knowledge on when and how human service groups seek policy change for marginalized groups.
Keywords: immigrant-serving organizations / policy advocacy / H-election / immigration detainers

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