(Sacramento) - Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D – San Diego) and Adrin Nazarian (D- Sherman Oaks) today introduced a legislative package that builds upon California’s efforts to welcome and successfully integrate refugees from around the world. This legislative package will help refugees access educational and employment resources necessary to become integrated and productive members of the community.
AB 343 will provide refugees with in-state tuition at public colleges, needed to help this vulnerable population learn language skills and other skills necessary for successful integration. Additionally, this bill will provide enhanced educational support for refugees with a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). SIV refugees worked on the front lines with U.S. Armed Forces or the U.S. State Department to provide translation and interpretation services during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. AB 343 will provide SIV refugees with priority enrollment in public colleges, similar to benefits offered to California veterans.
AB 349 will help SIV refugees enter the workforce more quickly by allowing these individuals to apply relevant work experience obtained overseas towards a professional license. Professional licenses are often needed to enter specialized segments of the state’s workforce. This benefit is also similar to benefits offered to California veterans.
Assemblymember McCarty will also make a one-time budget request of $5 million (five million dollars) to provide supplemental support grants to Local Education Agencies in counties with high child refugee populations. This grant could be used to hire translators, counselors or supplemental support staff needed to help refugee children successfully integrate into California schools. McCarty serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.
Finally, Assemblymembers McCarty, Gonzalez Fletcher and Nazarian will introduce a resolution recognizing June 20, 2017 as World Refugee Day. This resolution recognizes the sacrifices and positive contributions refugees make in our nation and affirms California’s support for refugee communities throughout the state.
“California will lead by facts, not fear,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “The fact is that successfully integrating refugee communities will make California’s economy stronger and our communities safer. I am proud to author this important legislation and will continue to stand with refugees as they work to achieve the American dream.”
“California will not close our doors to the less fortunate, we will not issue decrees based on hate and fear. Refugees fleeing the horror of war, after a two-year vetting process, will be welcome in California,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “This is personal to me. At eight years old, my mother and I fled war torn Iran for the promise of freedom, safety, and economic opportunity in California. I now represent my hometown in the California Assembly and I will not stay silent as President Trump recklessly tramples on American traditions.”
The California Welcomes Refugees package pushes back on religious and racially charged hate rhetoric from the federal government that has sought to limit refugees and other legal immigrants from entering the United States.
McCarty, Gonzalez Fletcher and Nazarian represent Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles Counties respectively, home to the largest populations of refugees in California. Between 1975 and 2015, California welcomed over 725,000 refugees to the Golden State. In 2016, nearly 8,000 new refugees called California home.