While the trauma, harm, intimidation and violence against immigrants has been exacerbated in recent years, with hate crimes against the AAPI community growing out of control, reform and healing is needed more than ever.
Many of you are familiar with my story
: I arrived in California with my family as a child after fleeing political upheaval in Hong Kong. There are thousands of our neighbors with stories just like mine, and there are countless more immigrants whose story is completely different. Since so many of the journeys that bring people to America are different, it has made reform more difficult. But as we know, just because something is hard, doesn't mean we get to ignore it.
Taking action on immigration reform is meaningful to me and I’m sure to many fellow immigrants within our county. I also stand hopeful since the new federal administration is committed to overhauling our nation’s immigration system to welcome families and include residents whose only home they have ever known is America.
So far, President Joe Biden has issued a number of Executive Orders, Proclamations, and Memorandums that seek to restore the rights of undocumented immigrants in our country. This includes having the Department of Homeland Security USCIS no longer defend the previously enacted public charge rule.
President Biden has reinstated DACA in its original form, revoked the exclusion of undocumented residents from the U.S. Census count, terminated the national emergency declaration that allowed for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the revocation of the Muslim Ban.
Despite all of these promising actions, we still have to create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants across the country, including an estimated 134,000 living in our county.
BOS Takes Action
At the April 20, 2021 Board of Supervisors meeting I brought forth a proposal
to have County review legislative proposals and how they may impact immigrants locally, including HR 6
, HR 1603
, and HR 1177
. We also included U.S. Senator Alex Padilla’s Citizenship for Essential Workers Act (S 747)
as part of staff’s review and analysis of federal legislative proposals relating to immigration. Thank you to Richard Hobbs from Human Agenda for bringing this critical piece of legislation to my attention.
Lastly, this referral asks staff to provide the Board with information on existing and proposed funding to immigration legal service providers. Due to the budget deficit, many of these providers sustained reductions to their contracts. With renewed interest in immigration reform, these legal service providers should be viewed as strengthening the safety net. Undocumented immigrants have been on the frontlines throughout this pandemic and have been particularly vulnerable to the downturn in the economy. Because of their status, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for unemployment benefits or federal stimulus payments. This may make it difficult for them to obtain legal services and pay the $725 application fee for U.S. citizenship. That is why funding for immigration legal service providers is important more than ever so they can provide their services to clients at low or no-cost. Click HERE to view a video of my full comments from the April 20 BOS meeting
. This proposal passed unanimously.
All of this work would not be possible without the amazing staff at the Santa Clara County Office of Immigrant Relations.
They are doing great work to help our community.
The Faces of Community
All around us each day are immigrants and undocumented residents. They are our loved ones, they are neighbors and strangers, they are our doctors, nurses, bus drivers, business owners, and so many more of the faces we see in our community each day. They are also your elected leaders and those who work in service to community. I would like to introduce you to two of your D3 Team members, Kevin Lee & Mario Lopez. Like me, they both arrived in America as a child, and we all graduated from UC Berkeley. Kevin and Mario are doing amazing work each and every day in service to the residents of D3 and all of Santa Clara County. However, unlike me they have not been able to earn their citizenship and remain in limbo waiting to see if they can finally be recognized by the only home they have ever known. I am fighting for them, and I am fighting for all of the immigrants of Santa Clara County.
Kevin, Mario and I wrote an editorial that the Mercury News published recently
. You can read more about their stories and why the need for immigration reform is long overdue, and why I have hope for better days ahead. Click HERE to read our article