Good evening, Council President Elo-Rivera and esteemed councilmembers. My name is Felicia Gomez. I am the immigrants’ rights senior policy advocate at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU-SDIC), which is a member of the Community Budget Alliance (CBA).

Ultimately, budgets are moral documents reflecting the values and priorities of our governments. The City of San Diego deserves a budget that advances the values of equity and inclusivity, a budget that considers all San Diegans – a true people’s budget.

Mayor Gloria has made a deliberate choice in his proposed budget to deem climate equity, support for immigrants and refugees, tenant assistance and youth development unworthy of continued public investment. He leans on narratives of scarcity and deficits to justify cutting equity-based programs that marginalized communities need and depend on. Meanwhile, he continues to increase investments in policing and incarceration, exacerbating already disproportionate systems of harm.

Contrast these proposed budget cuts with the staggering $30 million budget increase for the San Diego Police Department. It’s clear whom the mayor prioritizes and whom he considers expendable even more so considering that spending on policing is already one-third of San Diego’s general fund expenditures. Mayor Gloria’s budget cuts would disproportionately impact the region’s Black and Brown communities – an inevitable outcome he chooses to ignore.

We find the mayor’s proposal to eliminate the Office of Immigrant Affairs both troubling and offensive. This office was created in 2019 to support the civic, social and economic integration of immigrants and refugees into the region. The ACLU-SDIC, together with many of our community partners, contributed to the Welcoming San Diego Immigrant Integration Plan to ensure the City of San Diego continued to be an inclusive and welcoming region to all newcomers. In a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and laws are on the rise across the country, the Office of Immigrant Affairs and others like it serve a vitally important purpose and must be protected.

We are also concerned by the proposed elimination of the Eviction Prevention Program and Eviction Notice Registry, and cuts to youth programming, the Climate Equity Fund and the Community Equity Fund. 

We the People rely on our elected representatives to make equitable and moral budget decisions that safeguard and build upon hard-fought social progress. We urge the mayor and city council to heed the recommendations of the CBA coalition members and invest in a people’s budget that advances the progress achieved in becoming a more equitable, inclusive San Diego instead of damaging and dismantling these efforts.

Thank you for your careful consideration of our concerns.