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Walsh awards grants to community-based immigration organizations

Mayor Martin Walsh answers questions after a debate. Walsh has announced that he will be investing $100,000 in grants to organizations that advance Boston’s immigrant community. PHOTO BY WILLIAM BEVEVINO/DFP FILE PHOTO

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh awarded $100,000 in grants Wednesday to 10 community-based organizations dedicated to helping immigrants in the city.

The selected organizations will use funding to provide a variety of services such as aiding natural disaster evacuees and providing legal screening clinics for immigrants, according to a press release from Walsh’s office.

Arthur Natella, director of communications and public awareness at the Mayor’s Office of Health and Human Services, wrote in an email that Walsh is giving out these grants to increase the capacity of the organizations that are addressing issues in Boston that have demonstrated growing need.

Natella wrote that in the current political climate, it is “imperative” that the City support Boston’s immigrant community in order for them to have every opportunity to thrive.

“Boston would not be the world-class city it is today if it were not for the array of cultures, languages, and beliefs that make up every neighborhood in Boston,” Natella wrote.

Loi Hung Lam, 53, of the South End, said that as an immigrant herself, she thinks they do a lot for the community.

“I think Mayor Walsh’s acknowledgment of that and willingness to help the community is incredibly exciting and wonderful for the immigrants of this city,” Lam said. “We want to make sure that this is a fair city for everyone.”

Heloisa Galvão, executive director of the Brazilian Women’s Group, one of the recipients of the grant, said their funding will be allocated toward legal assistance.

“At the moment, this grant … is extremely important because we know that in this political climate, you are in a much worse situation if you don’t have legal assistance or legal advice,” she said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re at a greater risk of being exploited by a lot of people, and [immigrants] are very afraid.”

Galvão said the money being given by Walsh helps acquire lawyers who already volunteer with the organization and work pro bono. These lawyers see people one-on-one to assess the situation and determine whether or not they can take the case, she said.

“All of the lawyers are completely overwhelmed, there are so many cases,” Galvão said.

Galvão said Walsh has been very helpful to the organization and has provided financial assistance for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in the past.

“[Grants] like this are crucial to groups like us,” she said. “We are a grassroots organization, a small organization, but we do a lot. We serve the whole Brazilian population of Massachusetts — anyone comes to us with a problem, we don’t turn them down.”

Rebecca Monroe, 32, of Back Bay, said she hopes that with Walsh’s initiative, more people will step up to fight for immigrants.

“They do so much for the city and give back when they come here, contrary to what many people think,” Monroe said. “They have no other option but to sink or swim and many choose to swim and enrich the communities that they join.”

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