SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — San Diego County’s proximity to Mexico is one of the primary reasons behind a proposed publicly-supported Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs.

In a statement, San Diego County supervisors Nora Vargas and Nathan Fletcher emphasized the need for this office.

“Immigrants are our constituents and it is time for the County of San Diego to lead by ensuring our
communities are integrated and having a dedicated team in place to support immigrants in their pursuit of the American dream. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will help facilitate access to county services, benefits and opportunities for immigrant families and individuals. It will serve as an advocate to promote policies that advance the civic, social, and economic participation of immigrants and refugees in our county.”

Both Fletcher and Vargas stress San Diego County is a welcoming community, and that “immigrants have been, and will continue to be, vital participants in the future of San Diego County’s ability to thrive, and in the weeks ahead we will have more specifics to share about the policy.”

The board of Supervisors will vote on June 8 on whether to formally approve the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

Funding has been set aside in the proposed 2021-22 budget that was released last week. If approved, three full-time employees will be hired to run the office at an estimated cost of $370,000.

Last week, San Diego County voted to provide attorneys to immigrants facing deportation proceedings. The 3-2 vote orders work to begin on a $5 million, one-year pilot program administered through the county’s public defender’s office. It would provide lawyers for free to those detained at Otay Mesa Detention Center, the local federal immigration detention facility.