San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (SFOCEIA) works in close collaboration with service providers to address immigrant needs.
Created in 2009 by founding Executive Director Adrienne Pon, SFOCEIA brought together several functions tied to immigrant inclusion: language services, immigrant rights, community safety and engagement, and census 2010. Over a decade later, the department continues its policy, direct services, compliance and grant making work while partnering with a variety of city agencies and local service providers. In this collaborative work OCEIA strategically implements programs and services in response to the changing national immigration policy landscape. OCEIA hosts a DreamSF Fellowship program that places immigrant youth at a non-profit to gain professional experience while also receiving a monthly stipend. The fellowship initiated the SF Pathways to Citizenship Initiative, provides grants to immigrant-serving organizations to help with legal services, naturalization efforts, language access and other needs. OCEIA also works with Mission Asset Fund to help residents pay for immigration application fees through a collaborative lending model. According to Deputy Director of Programs, Richard Whipple, their success is based on close collaboration with immigrant-serving organizations, a dedicated staff committed to serving the city’s immigrant population, and community and legislative champions that move policy to support immigrant inclusion. For more information on the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, click here.
Photo credit: San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) needs to improve the care that it provides to immigrant children living with disabilities held in ORR-contracted facilities in California.
ORR is responsible for housing unaccompanied migrant children who are in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Many of these children are living with physical as well as sensory disabilities and mental health conditions. Under ORR policy, children should be placed in facilities according to their needs. As a part of Disability Rights California’s (DRC) work monitoring facilities that house and serve people with disabilities, the organization conducted on-site monitoring of nine ORR-contracted facilities throughout the state. In their 2019 report, DRC found that ORR does not provide adequate special education services, the agency’s services and assessments to evaluate a child’s need for services do not meet California’s standards, and children with disabilities tend to be housed in the most restrictive settings. In the report, DRC recommends a host of changes to the system, including a recommendation to ORR and other entities in charge of detention that they should “rethink the detention of children with mental health needs and other disabilities.”
In 2021, ORR opened up two Emergency Intake Sites (EIS) in Southern California for unaccompanied children apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the U.S. Southern Border. The two emergency facilities were located in Pomona and Long Beach, California. The Pomona EIS had a maximum capacity of 2,500 beds, while the Long Beach facility had 1,000 beds. Both facilities served to provide shelter, food, clothing, legal services, and recreational activities for the children until they were both closed for service. The Long Beach EIS closed down in July 2021, while the Pomona EIS closed in November 2021.
To learn more about DRC’s findings and their recommendations to improve conditions for children living with disabilities under ORR’s care, read the full report here.