- Supports expanded rights, and ultimately amnesty, for illegal immigrants in southern California
- Maintains close ties to the Mexican government
- Has collaborated with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Lawyers Guild
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) was established in 1986 “to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles; promote harmonious multi-ethnic and multi-racial human relations; and … empower immigrants and their allies to build a more just society.” CHIRLA’s chief concern is to advocate for “humane and comprehensive immigration reform,” in the form of an amnesty plan that allows all illegals to obtain U.S. citizenship either immediately or over a period of time. In a related effort, CHIRLA works at “challenging anti-immigrant legislation” – i.e., laws designed to identify and prosecute people residing in the United States illegally. To advance its objectives, CHIRLA runs a “community organizing” program that organizes “household workers,” “day laborers,” and “undocumented students.”
The cornerstone of CHIRLA’s work is its Policy and Advocacy Program, which seeks to promote “economic justice” by helping southern California immigrants — legal and illegal alike — to “access” a host of taxpayer-funded “services” that provide financial assistance in various forms. CHIRLA also has close ties with the Mexican government; in conjunction with the Consul General of Los Angeles, the organization has worked to gain dual citizenship for Mexican nationals living in the United States.
On March 7, 1995, CHIRLA held a meeting in Los Angeles to discuss strategies for undermining Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative designed to prohibit illegal immigrants in California from using social services, health care, and public education. In attendance were three representatives from the Mexican consulate, who pledged to provide CHIRLA with computers to track “hate crimes” against Mexican immigrants – on the theory that such crimes could be blamed on the anti-immigrant sentiment presumably created by the new law.
At that time, CHIRLA member Juan Perrino was already on record as having said that Prop 187 was “a continuation of the policies and practices of a nation… [that had stolen] someone else’s homeland.” Referring to America as the “United States of Aggression,” Perrino characterized the U.S. as a country “made up of 2,000 by 2,000 miles of stolen native land.” In addition to his activities with CHIRLA, Perrino was secretary of the Chicano Press Association, the publisher of Guerrillero de la Pluma (Warriors of the Pen) and a variety of anti-white, anti-American screeds promoting violent revolution.
On March 17, 1995, the “New California Coalition” – a triumvirate consisting of CHIRLA, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union – held a meeting in Los Angeles to discuss immigration-related issues. Among the attendees were Juan Perrino and Gaston Rosas, Administrative Officer of the Mexican Consulate.
CHIRLA has been an outspoken critic of the so-called 287(g) program, authorized in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. This program allows the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to train and deputize local police, sheriffs, and prison officials to enforce federal immigration law.
CHIRLA has produced a publication titled “Beyond Myths and Stereotypes,” which asserts that “immigration in the United States may have contributed to decreased crime rates, and immigrants as a whole may have lower crime rates than native-born citizens.” As evidence of this, CHIRLA cites “a 2007 study by Dr. Ruben Rumbaut and Dr. Walter Ewing [which] connected higher rates of immigration in the 1990s and 2000s with a nationwide drop in crime rates.” “According to that study,” says CHIRLA, “’even as the undocumented population has doubled … since 1994, the violent crime rate in the United States has declined 34.2 percent and the property crime rate has fallen 26.4 percent.’”
In addition to its immigration advocacy work, CHIRLA has long been an avid proponent of a taxpayer-funded universal health care system.
Among CHIRLA’s more notable board members are Mary K. Ochs, former Organizing Director of the Center for Community Change, and Roberto de la Cruz, a board member of the Service Employees International Union.
A registered non-profit corporation that receives U.S. taxpayer funds, CHIRLA is a member of the We Are America Alliance.