Governor Newsom and legislative leaders take action to support Afghan refugee arrivals in California

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Governor requested $ 16.7 million to support Afghan arrivals

California partners with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees on $ 20 million California Dignity For Families Fund, including new philanthropic support for Afghan arrivals

SACRAMENTO – Continuing California’s long-standing role as a state of inclusion and refuge, Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as pro Tempore Senate Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and President of Assembly Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), took action today to help newcomer Afghans settle in California. The governor, with the support of legislative leaders, is requesting $ 16.7 million in general funds, which will be used to provide cash assistance and other services to Afghans newly arrived in the state.

“I am proud that California has been and still is a place of refuge for those seeking safety or a better life – especially for those who have served our country, like many Afghan refugees coming to America and California,” said the governor. Newsom. “Today’s announcements and the funding request indicate that California is ready to help those in need. As the most diverse state in the country, we don’t just tolerate diversity, we celebrate it. “

California Is Taking Comprehensive Steps To Welcome Our New Afghan Neighbors, Including Through A State-Wide Coordination Effort, As Well As Access To Health Care, Public Benefits And Additional Resources . The proposed general fund spending is expected to be considered in the legislative session next week.

“These refugees have helped our military in Afghanistan and it is fitting that we give them hope when they come to California,” said Senate Speaker pro Tempore Atkins. “When I was young, the rule of thumb was that no matter how little you had, you helped those in need. We are fortunate to be in a position in California where we have sufficient funds to help ease the transition of these refugees into our society, and I am happy that the State is joining so many other organizations and individuals who do what it takes.

“California has long been a beacon for international refugees seeking safety and a better life,” President Rendon said. “I don’t have to look any further than my wife’s family to find out how true this is. But adapting to a new culture presents an incredible challenge for thousands of people. The legislature has already proposed funding to support Afghan refugees – we have the funds to help. With this small but important step, we can help ensure that refugees fleeing Afghanistan have the tools they need to successfully rebuild their lives in California.

Some Afghan arrivals will not hold a special immigration visa, but will instead be released on parole in the United States on humanitarian grounds. Due to their immigration status, humanitarian parolees are not currently eligible for certain refugee benefits and services, as well as many federal government assistance programs. However, humanitarian parolees are potentially eligible for state-funded food aid, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, and California’s Food programs, if they meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Notably, as humanitarian parolees, only Afghans arriving with children could be eligible for CalWORKs, and there is an expected gap in the assistance available for Afghans under this status who are childless. The proposed temporary extension of the State Trafficking and Crime Victim Assistance Program (TCVAP) will ensure that childless humanitarian parolees, who are not eligible for CalWORKs, will be able to access important public benefits , if they are otherwise eligible.

The Newsom administration will continue to lead in this area with increased coordination, community engagement, and state-funded public benefits to increase available resources, including leveraging the efforts below:

  • To facilitate an organized and coordinated effort, the state has established an interagency task force that will be co-led by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the California Health and Human Services Agency. They will work closely with counties, resettlement agencies, community groups and philanthropic organizations, with the aim of supporting the successful integration of newly arrived Afghans, including the provision of publicly funded services and support. and private. The Administration particularly appreciates the opportunity to partner with Afghan community organizations to coordinate these efforts.
  • Depending on their immigration status, arriving Afghan individuals and families are eligible for certain public assistance programs, including those funded by the state. Click here for more information on eligibility for public benefits.
  • The governor is proposing $ 16.7 million to fill gaps in federal and state-funded assistance for some Afghan arrivals through the temporary expansion of the TCVAP.
  • Newly arrived Afghans may be eligible for federal and state resources for housing and homelessness. A list of federal and state homeless resources compiled by the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council is available here. Local coordination will help take advantage of these resources. Additional information regarding available resources will be added in the coming weeks.
  • $ 20 million in scholarships for the California Newcomer Education and Well-Being (CalNEW) program and $ 1 million in federal scholarships for the Refugee School Impact (RSI) program. The 2020-2021 state budget provided $ 20 million to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) for the CalNEW program. In addition, the Federal Office for Refugee Resettlement has allocated $ 1 million to implement the RSI program in the federal fiscal year 2022. Funding is allocated to school districts in underfunded service areas. with a large number of socio-economically disadvantaged newcomers, undocumented immigrants, isolated language households, placements of unaccompanied minors and refugee arrivals, including school districts in regions with increased arrivals Afghans.
  • The 2021-2022 state budget also included $ 105.2 million in one-time general funds for rapid response to provide humanitarian support to immigrants for emerging needs, which may be available to complement resettlement efforts and support immediate short-term needs when federal funding is not available.

Governor Newsom also announced today an expansion of the California Dignity for Families Fund, a public-private partnership with grantmakers concerned with immigrants and refugees, which was created to meet the needs of migrants, migrant families and young people and unaccompanied minors entering California, including individuals. and families arriving from Afghanistan. The fund has already raised $ 8.3 million to reach its goal of $ 20 million with support from the James Irvine Foundation, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Emerson Collective, The California Endowment, Weingart Foundation, California Community Foundation and Sunlight Giving, among others. The Fund’s grantmaking work, in coordination with state agencies, will support humanitarian aid, immigration legal assistance, comprehensive services, mental health programs, holistic management of cases and more.

“In times of crisis, it is imperative that we respond to challenges together, with determination, empathy and deep partnership,” said Marissa Tirona, President of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. “We invite funders – and all Californians – to invest in the California Dignity for Families Fund and join us in welcoming and supporting newly arrived migrants and families. “

“In the midst of this humanitarian crisis, I am happy that California continues to champion the value of welcoming those who need it most. Afghans who flee for their lives urgently need these immediate benefits so that they can begin to rebuild their lives in the United States, ”said Homayra Yusufi, Afghan-American leader and deputy director of the New Advancement Partnership. Americans (PANA). PANA is also a member of the Afghan-American Coalition.

California is also teaming up with Airbnb.org to help provide free temporary housing statewide for Afghan arrivals. Since announcing its commitment to helping 20,000 Afghans around the world, Airbnb.org has hosted more than 100 Afghans arriving across California so far and will continue to welcome more in coordination with local resettlement agencies. refugees.

Additional support from the federal government will ensure a successful relocation to California and across the country. The Governor urges Congress to work with the Biden administration to act quickly so that all Afghans seeking refuge in the United States are provided with the appropriate benefits, services and accessible pathways to stable immigration status in a timely manner. The Newsom administration also supports President Biden’s commitment to work with our international partners to ensure safe passage for all Americans, Afghan partners and foreign nationals who wish to leave Afghanistan for their protection and safety.

“We welcome our new neighbors to Afghanistan with open arms and are grateful to the many community organizations across the state who have stepped up to provide services with empathy and compassion,” said the California Secretary of Health and Human Services. social workers, Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Today, we are strengthening our commitment to inclusion by mobilizing federal and state resources to further support the resettlement of Afghan families in our communities.”

Further information, including available resources, is available on the CDSS website.

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