Refugee Voices

NEED HELP? RESOURCE GUIDE FOR REFUGEES

Find resources for refugees throughout San Diego County by clicking this link. Many services are available including help with resettlement, immigration, education, jobs, literacy, healthcare, and much more. 

You can also find an interactive map here.


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ON WORLD REFUGEE DAY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CALLS ON COMMUNITIES AND NATIONS TO HELP REFUGEES

Want to help?  View resource guide to assist refugees in San Diego County

By Miriam Raftery

June 26, 2022 (San Diego) – In honor of World Refugee Day on June 20, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken released a video announcing expanded help to resettle refugees in the U.S. He also called on nations around the world as well as people and organizations across the U.S. to come together to assist those fleeing violence and oppression.


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SAVE UKRAINIAN CHILDREN WORLDWIDE ACTION DAY: RALLY TONIGHT IN BALBOA PARK

East County News Service

June 4, 2022 (San Diego) – The House of Ukraine invites the public to join in a #SaveUkrainianChildren peaceful rally tonight at 5 p.m. followed by a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. as part of a worldwide effort to help Ukrainian children amid the Russian invasion.


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UKRAINIAN REFUGEE REUNITES WITH DOG AT SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY AFTER QUARANTINE

Photo credit: San Diego Humane Society
 
May 29, 2022 (San Diego) -- A Ukrainian refugee who separated from her beloved Pomeranian at the U.S.-Mexico border in order for the dog to complete a required 28-day rabies quarantine, has been reunited with her dog at the San Diego Humane Society on Sunday, May 29, 2022.

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UKRAINIANS RECEIVE FREE LEGAL HELP TO APPLY FOR U.S. IMMIGRATION STATUS

Pro bono lawyers from 130 major law firms and companies are volunteering to help Ukrainians in the U.S. to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
 
East County News Service
 
May 12, 2022 (Washington D.C.) -- Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and a broad coalition of 130 law firms and companies have partnered to launch the TPS Pro Bono Project for Ukraine, a nationwide pro bono remote legal clinic to provide legal services for Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

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GROSSMONT COLLEGE TO HOST REFUGEE JOB FAIR FEATURING NEARLY TWO DOZEN EMPLOYERS

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

May 4, 2022 (El Cajon) - Grossmont College will host an inaugural Refugee Job Fair on May 10 with more than two dozen employers from a wide range of industries. The event is designed to benefit a growing number of refugees settling in the region, and is open to all.


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MIGRANT EXPULSIONS UNDER TITLE 42 COVID RESTRICTIONS TO END MAY 23 AS HEALTH CRISIS EASES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Border fence, cc by ND

Update April 23, 2022: A federal judge has temporarily blocked the lifting of Title 42 restrictions.

April 9, 2022 (San Diego) – At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Trump administration began expelling migrants without access to asylum hearings under Title 42.  Now, after lifting of most other pandemic mandates, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control director has announced that suspending migrants’ rights is “no longer necessary” after “considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19, such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics,” the CDC announced in a statement.


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GROSSMONT, CUYAMACA COLLEGES HOLDING EVENTS RECOGNIZING ARAB, MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURES

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

April 4, 2022 (El Cajon) - April is widely recognized as National Arab American Heritage Month and both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges will celebrate the cultures, contributions, history, and resilience of Arab and Middle Eastern communities. 


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REGION READIES TO WELCOME UKRAINIAN REFUGEES AND SEEK FEDERAL AID

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ukrainian refugees crossing into Poland; Creative Commons image via Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs

March 29, 2022 (San Diego) – San Diego County Supervisors have issued statements preparing to welcome Ukrainian refugees, following President Joe Biden’s announcement that the U.S. will admit up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine displaced by the Russian invasion. 

Nathan Fletcher, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, issued a statement which reads in part, “Our county has time and again stepped up to help refugees and this time is no different. Together with Los Angeles and Sacramento, we are the largest metropolitan regions in California expected to accept these refugees.”

Fletcher added that the County has also begun helping Ukrainian refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border.


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AFGHAN AMERICAN GROUPS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH CAMEROONIANS AND OTHER BLACK IMMIGRANTS AFTER TPS DESIGNATION FOR AFGHANISTAN

East County News Service

March 21, 2022 (San Diego) – Following the Biden administration’s designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghan refugees last week, the San Diego-based Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) and other immigrant groups are calling for similar protections to be provided for Black immigrants, including refugees from Cameroon.


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EAST COUNTY FILMMAKERS AMONG FINALISTS IN MIGRANT VOICES COMPETITION AT SAN DIEGO LATINO FILM FESTIVAL

By Matthew Manosh

Photos:  finalists Diego Lynch, Mimi Pollack and Bettina Hanna created films set in San Diego’s East County.

March 21, 2022 (San Diego) – Migrant stories from around the world were poignantly displayed at the San Diego Latino Film Festival on March 15, when finalists in the fourth annual Migrant Voices Today Challenge were presented. The finalists included East County producers and directors as well as stories set in East County.


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BIDEN ADMINISTRATION SEEKS COST-SAVING ALTERNATIVES TO DETAINING SOME MIGRANTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons image by SA-NC via Bing

March 14, 2022 (San Diego) – The Biden administration has announced a 120-day pilot program in Houston and Baltimore to test placing migrants into house arrest as an alternative to detention facilities while they await immigration hearings. The home curfew program would cost only $6 to $8 a day per person, far less than the $142 per day for detention in a facility, Reuters reports.


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UKRAINIAN-AMERICANS HOLD VIGILS IN SANTEE AND SAN DIEGO

By Matthew Manosh

Scroll down to links to videos from vigils

March 1, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- Local Ukrainian-Americans gathered in demonstrations these past few days in solidarity with their nation, which is under attack from Russian forces. Thursday night,  a prayer vigil was held in Santee on a vacant lot, where there are plans to build a Ukrainian Catholic Church. Father Yurii Sas of St. John the Baptizer Catholic Church in San Diego led his congregation in prayer and song, asking for God to protect his people in the Ukraine:


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AMERICANS HELPING AFGHAN REFUGEES

By Mimi Pollack, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

February 26, 2022 (La Mesa) - Afghan and American cultures are different in many ways, for example, in lifestyle and style of communication. It is always a learning experience when two cultures meet, but learning is good as it can broaden your life.


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FIRE DESTROYS REFUGEE’S RESTAURANT, 3 OTHER BUSINESSES IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kabul Star Restaurant, one of four businesses destroyed by the blaze

January 11, 2022 (El Cajon) – A fire destroyed four businesses in the Broadway Plaza Shopping Center in El Cajon  on January 5.  Two beauty shops, a smoke shop and an Afghan restaurant were destroyed.

A GoFundMe site has been set up to assist Karim Wafa, owner of the Kabul  Star restaurant, and his family including four young children after the fire turned their dreams into ashes.


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STATE DEPARTMENT TO PILOT NEW PROGRAM FOR REFUGEES TO ATTEND COLLEGE

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

Photo: Ding Manyang, South Sudanese refugee studying at George Washington University, via Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration

January 5, 2022 (Sacramento) -- By next fall, refugee students may be able to apply to attend American colleges and universities. The State Department said it plans to pilot a new category for refugee admissions, known as P4.


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CHALDEAN COMMUNITY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST PROPOSED COUNTY REDISTRICTING IN EL CAJON

Story and photos by Elijah McKee

 

December 8, 2021 (El Cajon) — “Our community is under threat again. This time, it's right here in the United States,” said Vince Kattoula, a Chaldean activist, at the Keep East County United rally and press conference on Tuesday.


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LEGAL ADVOCATES FILE COMPLAINT, CALL FOR INVESTIGATON INTO BORDER PATROL’S INACTION ON HUMANITARIAN PAROLE REQUESTS

East County News Service

November 12, 2021 (San Diego) – A coalition of legal groups representing asylum seekers say that dozens of requests for urgent humanitarian parole have been ignored for weeks while others have been denied without adequate explanation.  The applicants include individuals and families with life-threatening medical conditions.


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VOLUNTEERS AND AGENCIES WELCOME AFGHAN REFUGEES IN EL CAJON, BUT MORE HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED

By Elijah McKee

Photo, left: Jill Galante and Peggy Han, volunteers with El Cajon Helping Refugees

November 10, 2021 (El Cajon) — “We regularly, four or five times a day, get messages saying ‘Please, my family is so hungry. Please can you visit,’” said Jill Galante as she scanned the newly assembled single bedroom, now ready for four people.

After just one hour of flurried food stocking, donated furniture assembling and bathroom scrubbing, Galante and a group of volunteers from Helping El Cajon Refugees effectively transformed the bare El Cajon apartment into a welcoming place for Sara, her husband who worked with the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, and their daughters: four-month-old Sana and three-year-old Asra. “We try to make it look like a home,” said Galante.


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LOCAL ARAB GROUP CALLS ON SUPERVISOR ANDERSON TO APOLOGIZE FOR REMARKS LINKING CAIR TO TERRORISM

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2021 (San Diego) – The American Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) Committee’s San Diego Chapter has issued a press release denouncing Supervisor Joel Anderson for his statement linking the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to terrorism.

During an Oct. 7 hearing on his proposal to fund Afghan refugee resettlement costs from frozen Taliban assets and to develop a comprehensive county response plan to assist the refugees, Anderson sought to block CAIR from receiving any county funds.  “Any organization that has any affiliation with terrorism in the Middle East could have to be excluded and CAIR would be part of that group,” he said. View video


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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ENDS CASE QUOTAS FOR IMMIGRATION JUDGES IMPOSED BY TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: immigration court, Creative Commons image by NC-ND

October 21, 2021 (San Diego) – The U.S. Justice Department, under the Biden administration, has ended case quotas for immigration judges imposed during the Trump administration, CNN reports. 

The Trump-era performance metrics had required judges to complete 700 cases a year to receive a satisfactory rating, among other benchmarks. But that policy led to complaints from judges who argued that the quotas valued haste over due process.  


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SUPERVISORS ADOPT PLANS TO HELP AFGHAN REFUGEES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of the Pentagon: U.S. troops help evacuate Afghan refugees

October 8, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego Supervisors voted unanimously this week to adopt a proposal by East County Supervisor Joel Anderson to have the County Office of immigrant and Refugee Affairs work with refugee resettlement agencies to assist with a wave of Afghan refugees arriving in our region. The board also approved Anderson’s plan to ask the federal government to spend part of $9.5 billion in frozen Taliban assets to pay for refugee resettlements.

In addition, Supervisors approved a proposal by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to create an Afghan Resettlement Task Force.

With the Taliban takeover of the country, those who helped American troops as translators or in other capacities faced risk of death if they remained, as did women’s rights and human rights advocates. Many fled Afghanistan with few personal possessions.

Anderson stated, “I am thankful that my colleagues recognize the importance of this measure that will ensure San Diego County is ready to welcome these refugees into our communities.” He added that his East County district has a large population of Afghans and others with Middle Eastern heritage.”


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MORE AMERICANS FREED FROM AFGHANISTAN, ISSA’S OFFICE CONFIRMS

San Diego couple, both in their 80s, repeatedly blocked by the Taliban

East County News Service

September 15, 2021 (San Diego) - Congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) announced today that his office has facilitated the release of two more American citizens from Afghanistan. The Congressman’s constituents, a couple in their 80s, are on their way home and have officially left Kabul.


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PUBLIC WEBINAR ON CALLING 9-1-1 SEPT. 9: IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES WELCOME

Source: San Diego Sheriff

September 8, 2021 (San Diego) – “We want our immigrant and refugee neighbors to know the San Diego County Sheriff's Department embraces people of all backgrounds, faiths, cultures and nationalities. We welcome you to the county. You are a valuable part of our communities,” a press release from the San Diego Sheriff states. “We understand it can be challenging to adapt to a new environment and navigate public safety services.”


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SEVERAL CAJON VALLEY STUDENTS AND FAMILIES ESCAPE AFGHANISTAN, FATE OF OTHERS UNKNOWN AFTER DEADLY ISIS ATTACKS NEAR AIRPORT

Update August 31, 2021:  One local family with three Children in the Cajon Valley district has been left behind after the U.S. troop withdrawal,  10 News supports. A district spokesperson said they are exploring ways to bring them home.  The other Cajon Valley familes have been safely evacuated and some students are now back in school. 

 

Over 104,000 civilians have been evacuated by U.S. in past 10 days; airlifts continue despite bombings as Biden vows retaliations against ISIS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of the Pentagon: U.s. Air Force personnel help evacuate Afghan civilians at the Kabul airport on Aug. 24

August 26, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – After today’s deadly terrorist attacks near the Kabul airport, concerns are heightened over the fate of some Cajon Valley Union School District students and their families. Around two dozen students and their families who traveled to visit relatives became trapped in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, the district announced earlier this week.

Today, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that four of the local families have escaped and two have arrived safely in Southern California. But the whereabouts of five other local families, including 14 children, remains unknown.


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CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT REPORTS 24 STUDENTS STRANDED IN AFGHANISTAN

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association 

Photo:  District offices in El Cajon. Photo courtesy of the district

Update August 31, 2021 - At least 6 of the familes have escaped Afghanistan and three students are back in classes, district spokesman Howard Shen told the San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday. Two other families were still awaiting evacuation at the time.

August 25, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Cajon Valley Union School District said Tuesday that as many as 24 of its students are stranded in Afghanistan and haven’t been able to make it back to the Untied States.


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FOUR WAYS TO HELP OUR AFGHAN NEIGHBORS IN SAN DIEGO

Story and photo via International Rescue Committee, San Diego

August 25, 2021 (San Diego) -- The United States has begun a humanitarian evacuation and is relocating a group of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to San Diego. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in San Diego is working alongside communities and partners to support Afghans living in San Diego. 


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SHANE HARRIS AND LOCAL AFGHAN LEADERS AS SUPERVISORS TO ADOPT AFGHAN REFUGEE HOUSING ACCOMMODATION PLAN

East County News Service

August 25, 2021 (San Diego) – Shane Harris, a national civil rights leader and president of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, has proposed a plan for welcoming Afghan refugees to our region. Harris was joined by local Afghan leaders yesterday at a press conference urging San Diego County Supervisors to adopt the Afghan Refugee Housing Accommodation Plan for San Diego County. The proposal comes as the U.S. has evacuated some 70,000 people thus far amid the U.S. troop pullout and Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.


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LAWYERS CLUB URGES U.S. ASSISTANCE FOR AFGHAN WOMEN

Source: Lawyer’s Club

Photo: Creative Commons image-SA via Bing

August 24, 2021 (San Diego) – Lawyers Club of San Diego is calling on Congress to provide immediate support for Afghan women and others who have worked to advance democracy and human rights and who are in grave danger as the United States withdraws its military operations from Afghanistan and the Taliban takes control.


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BIDEN ASKS SUPREME COURT TO BLOCK ORDER TO REINSTATE `REMAIN IN MEXICO’ POLICY FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS

By Miriam Raftery

August 20, 2021 (San Diego) – The Biden administration today filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting the high court to block a Texas judge’s order to reinstate the controversial Migrant Protection Program (MPP). Reuters reports.  The program was ordered via an executive ordered issued by former President Donald Trump in early 2019 and required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting the outcome of their asylum cases in U.S. courts.

The Biden administration discontinued the policy, but U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, last week found that the Biden administration violated procedural laws and acted “arbitrarily” by failing to consider some benefits of the program.  However, Kacsmaryk stayed his decision for a week to allow the Biden administration to appeal.


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