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December 3, 2018

Proposed Changes to Public Charge Policies Are a Threat to Immigrant and Latino Families

A message from Ruby Lee, President and CEO of Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)


We raise our voice against the administration’s proposed expansion of the public charge rule, which represents the most radical change to our nation’s immigration policy in decades. If this rule were to go into effect, upwards of 24 million people – including 9 million children – could be negatively impacted. The proposed policies would expand what counts against visa and green-card applicants – to include health, nutrition and housing benefits – and impose new income tests on working-class families. This rule raises many concerns. Perhaps most seriously, it is a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of immigrants and communities of color that will inevitably result in a sicker, hungrier and poorer nation.

This proposed overhaul takes aim at our family-based legal immigration system. Without a doubt, the changes are an attempt to force eligible individuals to choose between critical health and nutrition programs they might intermittently rely on and obtaining legal permanent resident status. The administration’s proposed changes would deem immigrants potentially unacceptable if they have received, or are considered likely to receive, even a modest amount of support from any number of non-cash supports including: Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing supports (including Section 8 vouchers) and subsidies for Medicare Part D to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

The proposed regulation is divisive. It vilifies immigrant communities – primarily those of color – and reinforces false, negative stereotypes about who uses public benefits while unequivocally favoring wealthy immigrants. If this regulation moves forward, only those with means will be deemed worthy of entry to the United States, while working class immigrants, young adults, the disabled, sick and elderly and non-English dominant speakers would be categorically left out. The changes would, for the first time in our nation’s history, make a specific income threshold a central issue in immigration decisions. Having an income of under $15,000 for a single person or $31,000 for a family of four would be weighed negatively and could lead to a denial.

Chilling Effects

This proposed regulation has already sparked fear and panic among low-income immigrant communities. The uncertainty whether using public benefits would negatively affect an individual’s visa or green-card eligibility is prompting many to withdraw from social safety net programs for which they are eligible and pay taxes. Unfortunately, U.S. citizen children living in mixed-status households will disproportionately pay the price.

The proposed rule threatens our collective prosperity and makes it more difficult for U.S. citizens to reunite with family members abroad if those family members have low incomes. The loss of health coverage and access to healthy, nutritious foods will undoubtedly lead to increased hunger and negative health outcomes. Without housing assistance (also on the proposed rule expansive list), more families could be left homeless.

Our Children Will Bear the Burden, as Will the Country

A growing body of research shows that immigrants – many of them Latinos – help the U.S. economy through their labor, purchasing power, innovation and the billions of dollars they pay in federal taxes. But it is their children, second-generation Americans, who will contribute most to our country—but only if we invest in their health, education and overall wellbeing.

By 2050, an estimated one in three children in the U.S. will be Latino, and so will one in three members of the American workforce. In Minnesota, 45% of all Latinos are under the age of 20.  Given these projections, logic and economic self-preservation should spur us to treat these children—our children (and their hard-working parents)—better, since their fate and that of the nation are intertwined. By depriving a new generation of workers and taxpayers of adequate education, food, health care and shelter and deliberately stunting their prospects, we are ultimately hurting ourselves. 

Ruby Lee, CLUES President and CEO

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The government is required to read, count, review and consider all public feedback before issuing a final rule. We invite you to submit a comment on the proposed Public Charge rule changes at before Dec. 10, 2018.

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CLUES is Minnesota’s largest Latino-led organization. Founded in 1981, the organization’s mission is to advance the capacity of Latino individuals and families to be healthy, prosperous and engaged in their communities. CLUES leverages access to opportunity for Latinos and immigrants and stands for dismantling persistent and pervasive racial, economic, wellness and educational barriers that impede pathways to equality.

Posted in CLUES Blog by Austin Wiebe
October 2, 2018

It was an exciting day today as the old building next door to CLUES’ St. Paul Headquarters was demolished to make room for our new expansion! We are excited to create more space for community to come together and access resources and education as part of the growing Latino Cultural Corridor on St. Paul’s East side. Our expanded headquarters are scheduled to open in Spring 2019!




Posted in CLUES Blog by Austin Wiebe
September 29, 2018

*español abajo*

Beginning October 1, CLUES’ St. Paul Headquarters site will be under construction as our new expansion is built. Our offices and the Consulate of Mexico will remain open during this time. Please see the attached map and information below for parking and entrance information. We look forward to sharing our new expansion with you in Spring 2019!

During construction, CLUES’ main entrance will be located on Margaret Street. This is the only entrance through which clients and visitors may enter CLUES’ space.

The entrance to the Consulate of Mexico has been shifted slightly to face 7th Street. The door at the northwest corner of CLUES’ building will be a staff entrance and emergency exit only.

Throughout the construction, parking will be limited in the CLUES Parking Lot. To reach the entrance from this lot, follow the marked paths around the construction zone. Do not attempt to pass through the construction zone.

Additional parking is available on Margaret and surrounding streets and in the St. John Lutheran Church Lot. This lot is accessible via Margaret and Beech Streets as shown in the map below. Park only in spots labeled CLUES. To reach CLUES from this lot, exit the lot to the south toward Margaret Street, then continue down Margaret until you reach CLUES Entrance.

CLUES’ expanded headquarters are expected to open in Spring 2019. Please continue to monitor CLUES’ website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates as construction progresses. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at or 651-379-4200.

Download Construction Flier

A partir del 1 de octubre, el sitio de la sede de CLUES en St. Paul estará en construcción debido a nuestra nueva expansión. Durante este tiempo, la entrada principal de CLUES se ubicará en Margaret Street. Esta es la única entrada a través de la cual los clientes podrán ingresar al espacio de CLUES.

La entrada al Consulado de México se ha cambiado para ubicarse en 7th Street. La puerta en la esquina noroeste del edificio de CLUES será solamente una entrada para el personal de CLUES y una salida de emergencia.

Durante la construcción, el estacionamiento será limitado en el Lote de CLUES. Siga los senderos marcados para llegar a la entrada de CLUES desde este lote. No intente atravesar la zona de construcción. 

Estacionamiento limitado adicional estará disponible en Margaret y otras calles cercanas y en el Lote de la Iglesia Luterana St. John. Este lote es accesible a través de las calles Margaret y Beech. Estaciónese sólo en lugares etiquetados para CLUES. Para llegar a la entrada de CLUES desde este lote, salga al sur hacia la calle Margaret, y siga por Margaret hasta que llegue a la entrada.

La expansión de CLUES se inaugurará en la primavera de 2019. Visite el sitio web de CLUES y síganos en Facebook y Twitter para recibir actualizaciones durante la construcción. Si tiene alguna pregunta, no dude en contactarnos al 651-379-4200 o

Descargue volante sobre la construcción

Posted in CLUES Blog by Austin Wiebe
August 2, 2018

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, CLUES broke ground on an expansion to double the size of its Headquarters building on the East Side of Saint Paul.

CLUES President Ruby Lee led a ceremony announcing the launch of construction on the 19,000 sq. ft. expansion, which together with the current Headquarters will become an iconic Latino Cultural Hub and Community Center helping to expand and serve as a cornerstone of the growing Latino Cultural Corridor already underway on Seventh Street. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III and Senator Foung Hawj shared their well wishes for the project and emphasized the important role CLUES plays as a community leader and institution not only for the Latino community, but for St. Paul and Minnesota as a whole.

Also joining the celebration were Hon. Consul of Mexico Gerardo Guerrero; Senator Melisa Franzen; representatives from CLUES Board of Directors, BWBR Architects, ICS Consulting Inc. and RJM Construction; and other sponsors, community leaders and supporters.

“This is an exciting day for our organization and our community,” said Ruby Lee, CLUES President. “We are proud to be a destination point for the East Side of Saint Paul. Our vibrant Latino culture is an asset that will help expand investment and entrepreneurship on the lower East Side of Saint Paul. Our expansion will result into 39,000 sq. ft. of space where individuals and families of all ages and from all walks of life can build relationships, access resources and build community, all under one roof.”

As Minnesota’s largest Latino-led nonprofit agency, CLUES is positioned to serve Minnesota’s growing Latino population, which is expected to reach half a million by 2035 – more than 8.5 percent of the state’s total population. Today, CLUES and the Mexican Consulate (housed at CLUES Headquarters) bring more than 35,000 people to the neighborhood, helping to expand economic and business development in the neighborhood.

The expansion will include a new home for CLUES’ Elder Day Program, which currently occupies a leased space in St. Paul’s West Side, as well as other exciting new features including:

  • A Teen Tech Center facilitating learning in coding, music recording and film production
  • A Commercial Teaching Kitchen promoting healthy eating and microbusiness development
  • Six New Classrooms for workforce skills/career trainings ESL, GED, citizenship and computer classes
  • Flexible Meeting Space with a capacity of 140 for client and community gatherings

Construction will begin in late August 2018 and a grand opening is expected to take place in May 2019.

The $7.5 million Capital Expansion has been supported by the City of Saint Paul Neighborhood STAR grant and a variety of generous corporate and private donors, including 3M Foundation, Hugh J. Andersen Foundation, Katherine B. Andersen Fund, Best Buy Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, Butler Family Foundation, Chiasson Family Foundation, Hardenbergh Foundation, Mardag Foundation, Securian Foundation, St. Paul Foundation, Super Bowl 52 Host Committee Legacy Fund, Target Foundation, Travelers Foundation, Wells Fargo, MN Leadership Council, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and generous individual donors.

CLUES thanks all the generous sponsors and supporters of our expansion. We look forward to celebrating with you at our grand opening in 2019!

CLUES was founded in 1981 by and for Latinos to provide culturally and linguistically relevant
services. CLUES mission is to advance the capacity of Latino individuals and families to be healthy, prosperous and engaged in their communities. In addition to its Headquarters in St. Paul, CLUES has offices in Minneapolis, Willmar and Austin, MN. For more information, please visit or follow CLUES on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio
June 22, 2018

CLUES staff and clients were honored to be part of a new mural dedicated June 18 at Minneapolis City Hall. The mural, titled “El Camino del Corazón” (The Journey of the Heart), was created through a partnership with GoodSpace Murals and ReCAST Minneapolis (Resilience in Communities After Stress & Trauma).

Several CLUES clients and staff members from Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia met weekly with GoodSpace artists Greta McLain and Candida Gonzalez to share their stories as immigrants and refugees in the United States. Together, the group created the theme and artwork for the mural, which they later painted alongside staff from the City of Minneapolis.

CLUES President Ruby Lee and Associate Director of Community Health Carla Kohler spoke at the dedication Monday alongside Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and other representatives from the City of Minneapolis and GoodSpace Murals.

The project has been a wonderful way for our community to share their stories and experience and to talk with city officials on how to better engage with immigrant and refugee communities.

The mural is open to the public and on display on the third floor of Minneapolis City Hall outside the City Council chambers.

Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio
May 31, 2018

UPDATE: Temporary Program Locations Below

Dear CLUES Clients and Community:

Due to damages sustained to our building at 720 East Lake St. in Minneapolis, CLUES services will be temporarily relocated while the building is repaired. We anticipate returning to our Minneapolis office no later than September 2018.

Programs and services will be temporarily provided at the locations below, and most services are also available at our St. Paul office located at 797 East 7th St. in St. Paul. Please contact us at 651-379-4217 with any questions.


Mental and chemical health counseling, health insurance navigation and related services will be temporarily provided at:

Midtown Doctors Building
2545 Chicago Ave. S. (Three blocks from CLUES)
Suite 515/517 (5th floor)


Evening ESL classes (6-8:30 pm), SNAP and benefits support, job search, employment navigation, and related services will be temporarily provided at:

Minnesota Workforce Center
777 E. Lake St. (Across the street from CLUES)

Daytime ESL and GED classes (10 am-12:30 pm) will be temporarily provided at:
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
3045 Chicago Ave. S. (Two blocks from CLUES)


Financial coaching, homebuyer counseling, lending circles, asset building and related service will be temporarily provided at:

Fairview Clinic
1527 East Lake St.  (Nine blocks from CLUES)
Suite #200A (2nd floor)


Domestic violence and sexual assault support and parenting education continue to be available at CLUES satellite office located at:

Minnesota Workforce Center
777 East Lake St. (Across the street from CLUES)

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unfortunate situation. We will continue to post updates on CLUES website at as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. Please contact us at 651-379-4217 with any questions.


On Sunday night, May 27, a devastating fire destroyed the building next door to our Minneapolis office. Unfortunately, the subsequent demolition of the building caused significant structural damage to the CLUES building. Because the safety of our staff and clients is our number one concern, we decided to close the building until it’s completely repaired.

During this transition, several CLUES staff and services will be moved to our St. Paul office (797 East 7th Street, St. Paul), where we will welcome Minneapolis clients and patients. We will assist them with transportation needs if necessary. Individual programs will be relocated to temporary locations during the transition.
We ask others to call 651-379-4217 for more information or to schedule individual appointments. You may visit our website to get direct contact information for specific programs.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this unfortunate situation.
We send our thoughts and offer support to all residents and business owners who were directly impacted by this fire. We also send our thanks to the Minneapolis Fire and Police Departments for their prompt response and service. Our thanks to many friends, elected officials and supporters who promptly offered their aid and support.
Ruby Lee, President
And the entire CLUES Team
Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio
May 29, 2018

This spring, CLUES is celebrating the first three Youth in Action (YA!) Program participants to graduate from college! The YA! Program began in 2011, and since then we have guided more than 120 high school students to achieve their hopes and dreams through one-on-one mentoring, coaching institutes, academic support and community service-learning projects.

Our first college graduate, Xochitl Rodriguez Sanchez, graduated from Augsburg University this spring with a double major in International Business and Management and minors in Spanish and International Relations. We talked with Xochitl about her journey and how the YA! Program helped her along the way.

What is a moment or accomplishment you are especially proud of?

I am the first in my family to go to college and will be the first to graduate. I am also proud of having gotten to this point, even as a DACAmented student. It is very significant to my family and me because we weren’t sure if college was even going to be a possibility. There were several obstacles, from not having status to not being able to pay for the tuition. Up until 2012, I didn’t really believe it was going to be a possibility. After I received DACA it was a more tangible dream. I had some form of status and a way to get a job and pay for the school.

How have you stayed involved with CLUES, and why?

I continue to stay involved with CLUES through the YA! program. I help during the institutes from start to end, in any capacity. Some institutes I am paired with a student, and others I just help facilitate.

I think it is important to give back to the community. Thanks to the program I was able to envision myself succeeding, and I believe that if students see that others have made it or are making it, their hopes and dreams will seem easier to achieve.

I also believe that we are all in this together, and by giving back and helping out I think we can better ourselves individually and as a whole. I want to see more Latinos graduating from high school, going to college and graduating. We are very underrepresented in so many areas, and having more people step up to the plate is crucial to have our community be uplifted into success.

Why do you think programs like YA! are important?

It is important because it provides access to families who are unfamiliar with the process of how to obtain a college education. It also brings to the forefront the possibility of attending college and builds the repertoire for success in obtaining a college education.

I recall sitting in one of the lessons for FAFSA, which I couldn’t apply for because of my status, but still thinking how important this was because my brothers would be going through the process a couple of years after me. I know my parents are grateful in having the knowledge of how to help their children and knowing where they need to be to graduate.

What message or advice do you have for younger Latino students?

Even with all the obstacles placed in front of you, nothing is impossible. Where there is a will, there is a way.

I recall that at that point in time while I was in high school, I was my own greatest obstacle. Thinking that everything in front of me was there so that I would fail, and that it was for certain that it would hold me back, a lot. But the need to prove that it was all wrong kept me going. Just because you believe that you won’t make it doesn’t mean that others don’t believe in you, and that was key for me.

Surround yourself with people who cheer you on when you are at your lowest. It’s ok to lose people, especially if they aren’t people who believe in you and your capabilities. Always move forward and don’t be afraid to envision yourself succeeding. By doing so, you’ll feel it become more and more real until you finally achieve your success and exceed your expectation, because from the beginning you were more than capable.

CLUES congratulates Xochitl and all our graduating seniors on their incredible accomplishments! We are excited to see where your paths will lead and are honored to have been a part of your journey. You are always a part of the CLUES family!

If you would like to support students like Xochitl in achieving their hopes and dreams, consider becoming YA! Program mentor or making a donation to the YA! Program Scholarship Fund. Thanks to a generous donation from the Land O’ Lakes Amigos group, all donations will be matched up to $5,000! Learn more here.

Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio
May 2, 2018

On April 25, CLUES hosted GRATITUDe, our first ever donor and volunteer appreciation event. The event was an opportunity for us to thank our dedicated volunteers and donors, whose contributions help us achieve our mission and strengthen our organization.

The evening featured remarks from CLUES’ president Ruby Lee, updates from program staff and participants, opportunities for networking and mingling, delicious food from the Cafe Racer food truck, and a chance to browse the artwork of talented local Latino artists.

The evening was also an opportunity for us to announce our new Individual Giving Program. This program allows those who donate to CLUES to receive special benefits, including a one-time donor gift, discounted Gala Latina ticket and an invitation to next year’s Donor and Volunteer Appreciation event! Learn more about the program here.

Thank you again to all who give of their time and resources to support CLUES. We couldn’t do all we do without you!

View Photos
View beautiful photos of GRATITUDe from photographer Jorge Amerigo.

Meet the Artists of GRATITUDe


Jessica Lopez Lyman, Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary performance artist and Chicana feminist scholar interested in how People of Color create alternative spaces to heal and imagine new worlds. She is a member of Electric Machete Studios, a Chicanx/Latinx/Indigenous art collective on St. Paul’s West Side.

For our event, Jessica and her assistant brought a unique paleta-inspired, mobile screen printing cart and taught guests how to create their very own silkscreen posters!




Ricardo Bennett-Guzmán is an experimental media artist, photographer and filmmaker. Born and raised in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, his work questions and challenges the political, cultural and economic dimensions of globalization.

Leading up to the event, Ricardo conducted a month-long photography workshop with three participants of our youth mentorship program: Heidi Oropeza, Christina Neubauer and Guadalupe Rodriguez. At GRATITUDe, Ricardo and the students created an engaging, reflective exhibit of the photos they took during the workshop. View their photos here.




Tomás Aratti is an architect from Chile who has embarked on an adventure to follow his passion as a painter and illustrator. He is currently a resident artist at the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center across the street from CLUES in East St. Paul. His art speaks, in a very personal matter, of the relationship between mankind and mother nature.

Tomas exhibited some of his beautiful paintings at our event, the first time he’s shown his work outside of his home country!




Raul was born and raised in Mexico and has resided in Minneapolis since 1998. Pablo was born in Uruguay and has lived in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area since 1988. Together, they co-host LatinoAltROCK!, a multi-genre, high energy, KFAI radio show that celebrates cultural diversity and expression.

Raul, Pablo, and special guest Elizabeth Carey DJ’d our event, providing energetic music all evening long!


Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio
April 20, 2018

Our final spotlight for National Volunteer Week is Gonzalo Petschen!

Gonzalo Petschen has been an outstanding member of CLUES’ Board of Directors since August of 2014. His exceptional commitment and passion to aid CLUES in helping our Latino community earned him a spot as the Chair of our Board of Directors since June 2016. He has seen and been an enormous part of CLUES’ advancement in the last couple of years. His dedication, professionalism and can-do attitude do not go unnoticed.

Here’s what Gonzalo had to say about what CLUES means to him:
“CLUES and the CLUES team do critically needed work in the community. However, the impact of CLUES is beyond the critical services they provide every day – they also form an important part of the fabric of the Latino community and the Twin Cities. My perspectives have been broadened and I have been inspired by my involvement with CLUES and its team.”

Thank you to Gonzalo and all our volunteers for their service!

Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio
April 19, 2018

Care, compassion and commitment. Those just a few of the words that describe Sarah Gonzales-Blanco, today’s National Volunteer Week Spotlight. As a volunteer with our VITA Tax Program, Youth in Action (YA!) Program and  Immigrant/Refugee Mural Project, she is always ready to help with whatever needs to be done.

Here’s what Sarah had to say about what CLUES means to her:

“My husband, José Carlos, moved to the U.S. in May 2014, and before he had work authorization, he wanted to improve his English. He decided to try CLUES and found a safe and welcoming environment. He signed up to attend Civics, English Language Learning and Citizenship Preparation and maintains friendships with many his classmates to this day.

Once he received work authorization, he worked with CLUES to prepare a resume – the most beautiful resume I’ve ever seen – and to update his resume as he gained new skills and work experience. Moving to a new country is scary and can be traumatic, and although he has “graduated” from CLUES, the help and services he received were and still are invaluable to his personal and professional formation in the U.S. Volunteering is the least I can do to express my extreme gratitude for all CLUES has done for him throughout the years.”

Thank you to Sarah and all our volunteers for your incredible service!

Posted in CLUES Blog by CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio