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Immigrant Relations and Integration Services (IRIS)

Last modified: 3/6/2012 4:10 PM

Mission Statement

Working with immigrant communities and service providers to promote the full inclusion of immigrant communities in SCC.

Out of 58 counties in California, Santa Clara County is unique when it comes to addressing the needs of residents born in other countries.  With one-third of the county population born outside the U.S., Santa Clara County parallels New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles in constituting one of the most diverse populations on earth.   Immigrants in SCC have been fortunate to have policy makers that understand the importance of immigrant integration. 

Immigrant Relations and Integration Services is a program of the Office of Human Relations of Santa Clara County.  IRIS strives to improve the lives of immigrants and all residents of by recognizing and appreciating the contributions of immigrants, educating all county residents about the backgrounds, values, and life conditions of immigrants in Santa Clara County, and fostering multicultural community.  By assessing and addressing the specific human needs of immigrants and by maximizing collaboration, IRIS seeks to enhance the potential and enrich the lives of all county residents.  IRIS works on projects that promote positive immigrant relations and integration services.

IRIS performs in a multifaceted manner to meet the needs of a diversity of immigrants.  Santa Clara County established a unique Citizenship Initiative in 1996 with the twin goals of empowering low-income permanent residents and re-establishing eligibility for the safety net of services that was affected by welfare reform.  In the past 10 years, collaborating community-based organization have assisted over 100,000 immigrants with their citizenship process. Recognizing the many acute needs of immigrants, the County held a Summit on Immigrant Needs and Contributions in December 2000.  As a result of this research and recommendations developed in this process, SCC invested in programs that promote the integration of immigrant communities in SCC. 

IRIS current programs and projects include the following: 

  • Free Citizenship Days:  Annual free citizenship days in 16 languages allow thousands of county residents to become US citizens (click here to visit Citizenship Day info.)
  • Educational Forums:   IRIS organizes forums highlighting various issues impacting immigrant communities
  • Immigrantinfo.org: An interactive website that  includes a data base that lists over 700 ESL & Citizenship Classes in Santa Clara County, includes IRIS research such as Bridging Borders in Silicon Valley, Knowledge of Immigrant Nationalities of Santa Clara  County (KIN Reports) and links to local, state and a national resources for immigrants.  This website has received over 1 million hits and is an incredible resource for students, teachers, immigrant advocated and policy makers. www.immigrantinfo.org.  
  • Immigrant Rights, Responsibilities, and Resources, a guidebook of curriculum and resources encompassing over 20 topics. This guidebook can be found on www.immigrantinfo.org.
  • The KIN Speakers’ Bureau: Trained speakers provide a 2-hour Cultural Proficiency Workshop for governmental, educational, and non-profit organizations to deepen their understanding of 16 immigrant communities in the County using the source material contained in KIN (Knowledge of Immigrant Nationalities) in Santa Clara County.
  • Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence Committee: IRIS staffs the Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence Committee of DVC formed to address the unmet needs of battered immigrants, predominately women and children.
  • Immigrant Cultural Proficiency Initiative: In collaboration with Human Relations Commission, IRIS is designing a County policy for immigrant cultural proficiency to improve excellence of service