Diversity and Equity Council Discuss Issues Related to Immigration

To increase awareness of recent immigration policy shifts and trends, the Diversity and Equity Council (DEC) hosted Alison Kamhi of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center during the recent monthly meeting in July 2015. The presentation focused on the topic of unaccompanied minors as well as proposed policy expansions that would allow many more in our community to be able to work legally.

The increase in numbers of unaccompanied minors was striking to the group as the number has increased from average of 6,775 unaccompanied children detained per year in 2003-2011 to over 57,000 detained in 2014. The group explored challenges of reaching out to and providing services to these children who have often been traumatized prior and during their journeys to the U.S.

In regards to the new proposed immigration policies (including expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and also Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) Ms. Kamhi stressed that though the new proposed immigration policies could benefit as many as 4-5 million individuals nationally and an estimated 21,000 individuals in San Mateo County, the implementation is currently blocked due to a Texas court decision. She advised that providers can help spread this information about the hold as some communities are being approached by fraudulent individuals promising to help them with their case.

Issues surrounding immigration affect many individuals in our communities. Approximately 23.2% of children in the Unites States are either immigrants or children of immigrants. If you or someone you know needs more information about what programs might be available to them, some local resources include the International Institute of the Bay Area in Redwood City, Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto, and Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigrant Services.

If you are passionate about serving under-served populations, we want to hear from you at the DEC’s monthly meetings.

The Diversity and Equity Council is a guiding body that works to embrace diversity, eliminate health disparities and advance equity in San Mateo County. The DEC coordinates, informs, supports, advocates and consults with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and its communities. The goal of the group is to address health disparities and barriers to access in our communities.

For more information contact Narges Dillon at narges.dillon@star-vista.org or Kathy Reyes at ekreyes@smcgov.org.