California State Assembly Approves “California Welcomes Refugees” Legislative Package
(SACRAMENTO) – Building upon California’s efforts to welcome and successfully integrate refugees from around the world, the California State Assembly today approved the “California Welcomes Refugees” legislative package by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D – San Diego) and Adrin Nazarian (D- Sherman Oaks), which will help refugees access educational and employment resources necessary to become integrated and productive members of the state.
AB 343 will provide refugees with a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) in-state tuition at California Community Colleges during their first year of residency in the state. 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. This bill will help this vulnerable population learn language and other skills necessary for successful integration. This measure was approved on a vote of 55-0.
AB 349 will help SIV refugees enter the workforce by providing them with a hiring preference when applying for employment with the State of California. The specialized training and skills required of SIV refugees to serve US military or US State Department are highly transferable to state civil service. This measure will help SIV refugees find employment and further their contributions to the people of California. This measure was approved on a vote of 41-28.
Next Month, the California State Assembly will consider HR 23, by Assemblymembers McCarty, Gonzalez Fletcher and Nazarian 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.
Assemblymember McCarty has also made 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. This proposal will be considered as part of the State Budget Act, which will be taken up on June 15.
“California will lead by facts, not fear,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D – Sacramento). “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 legislative package and will continue to stand with refugees as they work to achieve the American dream.”
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.
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Kevin McCarty represents California’s 7th Assembly District, which include the cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento and unincorporated Sacramento County. McCarty serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.