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San Diego expands support of immigrants with new city office

The City of San Diego now has an Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Mayor Todd Gloria announced the new addition Tuesday as the city enters its new fiscal year. The mayor allocated $511,000 in the 2023 budget for staffing the office.

“Immigrants are an important part of our community, but they often feel disconnected or unsupported by their city government. That’s why I created the Office of Immigrant Affairs, which strives to welcome immigrants to San Diego and make sure their voices are heard at City Hall,” Gloria said. “This office will help us promote inclusion, ease the transition for immigrants and help them feel supported as part of our community.”

The city has had a director of immigrant affairs since 2019, a role that arose out of San Diego’s Welcoming Plan that was adoptive under former Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The Office of Immigrant Affairs is an extension of this role and part of the ongoing development of the plan’s recommendations. It will be led by executive director Rita Fernández, who was the first director of immigration affairs for the city, and will hire two full-time support staff.

“From what I’ve seen, from what I’ve heard from my family members, from what I’ve seen from my parents’ experiences, it has become very clear to me that the Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Welcome of San Diego plan is basic public services,” said Fernández. “It’s something every city in America should offer.”

Under Gloria’s administration, Fernandez served as director of global affairs and Farhat Popal he was the director of immigration affairs.

The office will focus on reducing language barriers to accessing city services, Fernández said, as well as finding ways to support through the naturalization process and educational services, including financial literacy for newcomers.

Many of the details for those programs still need to be worked out, Fernández said, and the two additional staff will help guide them into existence.

“We’re going to be looking for people who believe in this mission, who maybe have experiences themselves, who understand the scope and impact of the work we’re going to do and the services we’re going to provide,” Fernández said.

The initial projects for the new office, he said, are all based on recommendations made by the community during its early days We welcome San Diego’s initiative when city officials, community organizers and other stakeholders met in the city to discuss the needs of San Diego’s immigrants. But the office should also be flexible, he added, to evolve as the community’s needs change.

He cited the example of the pandemic, which no one had any idea was coming when the Welcome to San Diego plan was created.

Members of the public interested in contacting the office can do so through its website at sandiego.gov/welcomingsd or its social media channels, Fernández said.

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San Diego expands support of immigrants with new city office Source link San Diego expands support of immigrants with new city office

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