SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego plans to hire its first manager to lead an ambitious effort to welcome immigrants and refugees and integrate them into the community through education and job assistance, the Republican mayor said Monday.
Economic growth is tied to immigrants, with one in four people in San Diego foreign-born, Mayor Kevin Faulconer pointed out at a news conference surrounded by civic and business leaders, including former Republican mayor Jerry Sanders, who heads the Chamber of Commerce.
“San Diego is proud to be a destination for immigrants in search of an opportunity,” Faulconer said, adding that immigrants from around the globe “define who we are as a region.”
The announcement came less than a week after San Diego County decided to provide a building to shelter asylum seekers after they are released from detention.
Other major cities including Atlanta and Seattle have immigrant affairs offices. San Diego consulted with those cities and wants its plan to be among the most ambitious in the nation.
Faulconer has included $70,000 in his proposed budget for the immigrant affairs manager position.
A steering committee involving business owners, university researchers and humanitarian groups spent a year drafting a blueprint for the city that includes providing incentives for landlords, employers and others to help immigrants.
It was unclear how many initiatives might be adopted; whether the City Council would need to vote on every one; and whether at some point it would include helping undocumented immigrants.
The committee has recommended ensuring housing stability by making sure immigrant tenants are protected from deportation and by preventing landlords from taking actions based on immigration status.
Asked if the plan includes undocumented immigrants in San Diego, Faulconer told The Associated Press that his focus is on refugees and immigrants who have green cards or citizenship.
The blueprint calls for promoting immigrant entrepreneurship and business ownership, strengthening multicultural curriculum in K-12 education, expanding English classes, increasing civic participation by immigrants and refugees, and implementing police training that fosters trust between law enforcement and immigrants.
It also recommends the city host events that highlight the stories of immigrants.
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