Immigrants & Refugees
Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, the Foundation recognizes the intrinsic value and basic rights of immigrants and refugees to become fully productive members of our society. MMF supports programs that promote the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants and refugees in our region.
Statement of Need
St. Louis has been a gateway for immigrants and refugees for the past few decades. The size of refugee populations has increased since St. Louis was designated as one of the preferred communities for refugee resettlement. Recent estimates suggest that there may be as many as 150,000 immigrants in the St. Louis area. The St. Louis region has also experienced a 78.3% growth in its Hispanic population between the 2000 and 2010 US Census. This growth was experienced across the metro area, but there are particularly high numbers of Hispanics in St. Louis City, St. Louis and St. Charles Counties in Missouri, and St. Claire and Madison Counties in Illinois. In Illinois, Fairmont City has a particularly high population (71.42%) identified as Hispanic.
While the local populations of immigrants and refugees have grown, so have the challenges such as the lack of access to quality education and health, limited awareness of available resources and services, lack of transportation, low-paying employment, and systemic language barriers, especially for the poor and vulnerable. Many have health issues, lack family support, have mental health scars from their refugee ordeal or have come to St. Louis with little or no experience in supporting themselves or their families within a context relevant or feasible in their new environment.
Funding generally includes interpretation services utilizing native-born interpreters, legal assistance, housing and employment services, and programs that help low-income immigrants to overcome barriers to social justice.
Training programs that help health and social service providers engage effectively with immigrant and refugees are also funded.