Supervisor Anderson looks for support from Biden administration

Supervisor Joel Anderson

San Diego County District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson asked President Joe Biden on March 28 for funding to assist with refugees who might seek asylum in greater numbers throughout the coming months.
Anderson cited two reasons he anticipates immigration numbers will go up: increasing numbers of Ukrainian refugees could potentially turn up in San Diego county and Title 42 orders will be lifted on May 23.
Title 42, a March 2020 federal health order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented by then-President Donald Trump cited the pandemic as a public health reason to bar people from entering the United States. When that order is lifted, immigration could increase along with a need for refugee assistance in the coming months.
The anticipated surge in Ukrainian refugees would follow a wave of about 300 Haitian refugees who arrived in 2020 as part of a longer migration pattern and about 2,100 Afghan refugees who came seeking asylum after the United States military pulled out of Afghanistan in August 2021.
“As the number of people fleeing Ukraine continues to increase, coupled with your recent decision to admit 100,000 refugees into the U.S., the citizens of San Diego are once again willing to welcome the displaced with open arms. However, to do so successfully will require additional funding from the administration to support this population,” Anderson wrote in his letter to Biden.
Anderson did not say if that same welcoming spirit extended to refugees and asylum seekers from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, many who have been waiting at the San Ysidro border for years.
“The aim of our request is to ensure that resource needs created by the influx of refugees to our county are met,” he said.
Biden signed an Executive Order on Feb. 11 to block Afghanistan’s central bank reserves held in the United States, and said he intended to disburse $3.5 billion for the benefit of the Afghan people, but did not specify exactly how those dollars should be directed. United States Congressional Representatives remain divided on whether releasing those funds to Afghanistan supports humanitarian efforts of people living in poverty or is a step back toward Taliban empowerment.
Meanwhile, the United States “provided over $650 million in defensive assistance to Ukraine this year,” Biden said on Feb. 24 and has blocked over $250 billion in Russian assets.
Anderson, in his letter to the president, requested frozen Russian government assets be used to fund resources for Ukrainian refugees.
In like manner, Anderson said he had identified $9.5 billion in frozen Afghan government assets which could be used as a potential funding source for Afghan resettlement activities.
El Cajon, in District 2 is home to one of the largest Iraqi and Chaldean populations in the United States and is traditionally a neighborhood of immigrant peoples who have recently entered the country.
“More than 25% of the 11,000 Afghan refugees arriving in California have resettled in San Diego county… Because our resettlement agencies and local grassroots organizations plan to continue providing the crucial support Afghan families need, they are beginning to feel overwhelmed with current activities, even before seeing the arrival of new refugees from Ukraine,” Anderson wrote.
According to Anderson’s office, county staff has been meeting on a weekly basis with resettlement agencies and community partners through work groups and a steering committee.
As Title 42 orders are rolled back, Anderson wrote, an increase in immigration could impact the work of resettlement agencies and the ecosystem of public and private entities serving the immigrant population of the border region.
Ostensibly, any funding received would be directed toward San Diego county’s office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs along with community partners to assist in incoming refugees.
A spokesman for Anderson would not say if the supervisor had reached out to Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents East County’s 50th Congressional District, to secure federal funding.
However, Issa communications director Jonathan Wilcox said the congressman has confidence Anderson is “doing the right thing by raising key points this White House is obligated to deal with in a realistic way.”