The following is a prepared testimony urging the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to create an Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. The testimony was delivered to the Board of Supervisors by ACLU-SDIC Immigrant Rights and Binational Affairs Advocate Esmeralda Flores on June 8, 2021.
Good morning, my name is Esmeralda Flores. I am the Immigrant Rights and Binational Affairs Advocate at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU is a proud member of the Invest in San Diego Families coalition.
We are here to urge the Board of Supervisors to create an Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. Supervisor Fletcher and Supervisor Vargas, thank you for leading this important effort.
All people in San Diego County deserve a fair, equitable opportunity to achieve full social, economic and civic engagement. This includes people in our county who are immigrants and refugees.
Immigrants and refugees represent more than 20 percent of the county’s population. Additionally, 68 different languages are spoken throughout the county.
These diverse, multi-cultural and multi-lingual communities make San Diego stronger and more vibrant. They deserve to have a safe space where they can easily access services and programs to help them succeed in our region.
However, immigrants and refugees often face language and information barriers when trying to find resources and services relevant to their needs.
San Diego County should establish an Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs to serve as a one-stop shop for information on government services; and the office should develop programs that promote permanent residency, language accessibility and civic engagement.
New York City and Los Angeles have already created similar offices. These offices offer key programs and facilitate access to public services to help advance the well-being of all immigrants in their regions.
We urge this board to follow these examples by voting in support of establishing a fully funded Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs with a starting budget of $2 million. This office will demonstrate to newcomers and current residents that we are truly a welcoming county where they can live, work and thrive.
Thank you for your time and consideration.