Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) Los Angeles



Los Angeles, CA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2019):

Revenue: $10,563,897
Expenses: $7,757,223
Assets: $8,771,621



Executive Director:

Martha Arevalo


Immigrant advocacy group

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Central American Resource Center Los Angeles (CARECEN-LA, also known as CARECEN of California) is a left-leaning immigrant advocacy group. CARECEN-LA has sister groups in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco. 1

CARECEN-LA oversees immigrant networks, provides legal services to immigrants, and supports local and national pro-immigrant policies. The group is critical of U.S. immigration policy, particularly under President Donald Trump, and attributes much of Central America’s emigration to local instability prompted by U.S. foreign policy.

CARECEN-LA is a member of Check the Sheriff, a coalition of left-wing groups aligned against the homelessness policies of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva (D). 2 CARECEN-LA had previously supported Sheriff Villanueva’s initiative to end the transfer of detained immigrants from LA County to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a warrant. 3


In 1983, the Central American Refugee Center was founded by Salvadoran refugees fleeing a civil war in El Salvador. The group, soon to be known as Central American Resource Center Los Angeles, initially provided support networks for refugees, but soon branched out into activism. In 1984, members of the group held a 15-day hunger strike to protest the deportation of Salvadoran refugees by the administration of President Ronald Reagan. In 1985, CARECEN-LA joined a lawsuit led by the American Baptist Church against the federal government. The groups alleged discrimination against Salvadorans and Guatemalans and ultimately made a settlement out of court to provide special refugee status protections to the two groups. 4

In 1994, CARECEN-LA campaigned against Proposition 187, a measure to establish a state-run citizen screening system to prevent illegal immigrants from using public services. 5

In 2006, CARECEN co-organized a protest against HR 4437, which would have enhanced penalties for immigration violations. 6


Central American Resource Center Los Angeles provides both free and paid legal services to illegal and legal immigrants, including deportation defenses, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cases, and family petitions. 7

Day Labor Center

The CARECEN-LA Day Labor Center connects immigrant laborers with businesses for employment opportunities. In early 2020, the Center was evicted from its headquarters in Westlake, Los Angeles for being a “nuisance” and a “blight” on the local community. The landowner published a letter to CARECEN citing instances of drug use, alcohol use, public urination, vandalism, and theft in and around the building. CARECEN staged protests against the eviction and attributed the unseemly events to a surge in local poverty which the Center sought to alleviate. 8


CARECEN-LA runs classes for immigrant youths on English language, college preparation, LGBT issues, and more. The group also provides citizenship classes for immigrants preparing to quality for U.S. citizenship. 9


Central American Resource Center Los Angeles advocates for a wide range of local and national policies which facilitate immigration. 10

U.S. Border

CARECEN-LA works with youth and family groups on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to provide basic services to immigrants and advocate for the expansion of government-provided services. The group also partners with Al Otro Lado, a pro bono legal organization for immigrants, to monitor for abuses committed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, particularly during the administration of President Donald Trump. 11

In November 2018, ICE agents fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of hundreds of Mexicans standing in Tijuana on the Mexican side of the U.S. border. CARECEN-LA, which operates in the immigration facilities in Tijuana, condemned the action, blamed the U.S. government for prompting the swell of immigration, and asked the government to grant access to all Latin American refugees. 12

Foreign Policy

CARECEN-LA attributes the refugee crises of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to instability in the region caused by US foreign policy, particularly the support for right-leaning authoritarian regimes. CARECEN-LA advocates for foreign policy proposals designed to stabilize the region and counteract prior interventions. For instance, the group supports the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, a long-proposed bill which would end all foreign aid to the Honduran military and police until human rights abuses are independently investigated. 13


Central American Resource Center Los Angeles and the other CARECEN affiliates in Washington D.C., New York, and San Fransisco are funded by numerous left-of-center organizations. The groups have received $897,000 from the California Community Foundation, $422,000 from the Weingart Foundation, $150,000 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, $148,000 from the Fineshriber Family Foundation, $134,000 from UnidosUS, $125,000 from Unbound Philanthropy, $77,000 from United Way of Los Angeles, $75,000 from the Annenberg Foundation, $67,000 from the San Francisco Foundation, $57,000 to the Liberty Hill Foundation, and $20,000 from the Ford Foundation. 14


  1. “Search for a nonprofit: CARECEN.” ProPublica. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  2. “About.” Check the Sheriff. Accessed July 21, 2021.
  3. “L.A. County Ends Warrantless ICE Transfers.” ACLU Southern California. September 1, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  4. “Timeline.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  5. “Timeline.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  6. “Timeline.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  7. “Legal Services.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  8. Barajas, Julia. “Day labor center in Westlake fights eviction, arguing it is ‘safety net’ for community.” Los Angeles Times. January 11, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  9. “Education.” CARECEN. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  10. “Organizing, Policy, and Advocacy.” CARECAN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  11. “CARECEN Refugee Project.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  12. “Carecen-LA Condemns Attacks On Asylum Seekers and Refugees By US Agents.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  13. “CARECEN Refugee Project.” CARECEN-LA. Accessed July 27, 2021.
  14. Data compiled by subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted [July 28, 2021].
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1986

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $10,563,897 $7,757,223 $8,771,621 $289,533 N $10,274,696 $290,656 $578 $212,917 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $8,247,262 $6,942,980 $6,006,289 $330,875 N $7,620,288 $627,819 $0 $98,968 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $6,741,828 $4,894,600 $4,615,924 $244,792 N $6,420,277 $279,261 $0 $90,000 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $3,882,573 $3,698,970 $3,085,722 $561,818 N $3,021,473 $801,494 $96 $84,980 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,922,277 $2,983,894 $2,608,179 $267,878 N $1,923,903 $881,308 $99 $84,980 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,946,578 $1,986,039 $2,708,624 $296,579 N $913,256 $850,955 $370 $80,000 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,732,327 $1,829,812 $2,716,670 $243,610 N $743,472 $872,300 $55 $80,000 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,475,513 $1,460,373 $2,840,484 $269,939 N $689,369 $774,239 $132 $20,000 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,046,717 $1,403,233 $2,825,833 $270,428 N $664,522 $365,704 $594 $0 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $1,495,004 $1,370,052 $3,702,969 $791,048 N $1,126,825 $330,280 $0 $85,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) Los Angeles

    2845 W 7TH ST
    Los Angeles, CA 90005-3907