HILSC advocates for immigrants through principled, values-based collaboration.

History & Mission

The Houston metropolitan area has one of the highest concentrations and fastest-growing populations of immigrants and refugees in the country. More than 1.6 million immigrants and 70,000 refugees call the Houston region home and 63% of them are non-citizens; more than 500,000 Houston-region residents are undocumented. Despite their significant contributions to the state and local economy in Texas, immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, face considerable challenges. Many immigrants are eligible to apply for citizenship, another form of legal status, or “deferred action,” but cost, educational gaps and lack of high-quality legal services prevent them from seizing these opportunities. We estimate that local service providers currently serve only 2o% of low-income clients who are eligible for immigration services.

We envision a region that respects and advances the rights of all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.

In 2013, local organizations working with immigrant communities came together to address the lack of legal services capacity in the Houston region. These early meetings eventually became the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC or the Collaborative). Collaborative stakeholders include non-profit legal services providers, outreach and advocacy organizations, the business community, law school legal clinics, public agencies, and private foundations.

Mission: We advocate for immigrant inclusion, equity, and justice by uniting and strengthening diverse allies, developing holistic immigration legal services, and supporting creative initiatives through principled, values-based collaboration.

Using a collaborative approach in decision-making, program design, and implementation, HILSC:

  • Provides funding to advance HILSC’s mission;
  • Increases the quality and quantity of high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services providers equipped to serve low-income immigrants;
  • Improves and streamlines immigrants’ access to holistic legal and social services; and
  • Is a source of reliable and timely information about changing immigration policies and resources.

The Collaborative plays a critical convening, coordinating, and communication role in the legal services community. Through our work, more immigrants are receiving low-cost, high-quality legal services for immigration issues in Houston. Our work has become even more urgent in 2019, as the policy environment in which we work becomes increasingly hostile to immigrants.  We have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for immigration legal services and education & outreach efforts in Houston’s diverse immigrant communities.

The Collaborative is a supporting organization of the Greater Houston Community Foundation. GHCF provides critical organizational support and makes up the majority of our Board of Directors. The Collaborative is also supported by a 15-member Executive Committee, all members of the non-profit and funding community in Houston.

See our current community plan.

Download our 2015 community plan to see where we started.

How to get involved

The Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC) meets quarterly, hosts trainings, and has committees working towards each of our strategic goals. We welcome new legal service providers, immigration service providers and stakeholders.