Lawmakers propose state agency focusing on serving California’s immigrants and refugees


As tension grows between California and the federal government over the southern border, some state lawmakers want to create an agency specifically for immigrants and refugees.

“If our immigrant communities and refugee families are successful, California will be successful,” says Assmemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco).

State lawmakers announced Thursday a proposal to create a state agency focused on serving California’s immigrants and refugees.

With the country’s largest immigrant population of 10 million, the state already offers several services across multiple state departments. Chiu says this would bring them all under one roof.

“At this time we provide services, everything from healthcare to kids, student financial aid to driver licenses, social services, legal services, we want to make sure if you’re an immigrant or refugee it’s easy for you to access services from state government, you’re not trying to figure out which sub agency in which department that’s providing a particular service,” he explains.

The proposal would also establish a secretary of immigrant and refugee affairs to help lead the agency.

Chiu’s proposal comes as California continues to go head-to-head with the federal government on immigration. Earlier this year the state sued the Trump administration over a border wall, while San Diego County this week sued over the administration’s asylum policies.

“It’s important for us to say, at this moment in history, at this moment of time when our immigrant communities are under assault, we’re going to defend them, we’re going to take care of them, we’re going to make sure their families thrive and succeed,” Chiu says.

Next week, Gov. Gavin Newsom is heading to El Salvador to better understand what’s happening beyond the southern border. Meanwhile lawmakers here will start the conversation on creating that immigration state agency.

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