Alameda County approves $1.5 million allocation for immigrants, refugees

Heyun Jeong/Staff

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The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.5 million allocation in support of immigrants and refugees Tuesday.

The county is providing $750,000, which the San Francisco Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar to make up the $1.5 million total. The funds will predominantly be used for immigrant and refugee related legal assistance, according to board President Wilma Chan.

Chan began formulating the legislation in the wake of President Donald Trump’s victory because of his campaign platform’s targeting of illegal immigrants. Trump has suggested funding cuts for sanctuary cities, and he recently enacted an executive order designed to halt immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Right after the election, I felt that the immigration community, including students, would be really affected,” Chan said. “Shortly after … I started calling various foundations.”

Alameda County contains roughly 1.6 million residents. About 30 percent of the county’s residents — or 439,000 individuals — are foreign-born, and about 105,000 people – roughly one-fifth of all immigrants — are undocumented, according to Chan.

“We knew from the Trump administration’s election platform that this would be one of their top priorities,” said Vanessa Cedeno, a legislative aide for Chan. “We weren’t able to get everything up and running by inauguration day, but we were trying to get everything done as quickly as possible”

Supervisor Richard Valle noted the anxieties of the immigrant and refugee community, who have been forced onto political center-stage. According to Valle, a fear of deportation lingers among the affected families in his district, many of which have small children.

Valle and Chan are both a part of the Alameda Ad Hoc Committee on Immigrant Rights, which was created in December. Its first community meeting will be held March 11 at the Union City Senior Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Four police chiefs from Alameda County cities — Fremont, Newark, Union City and Hayward — will attend, according to Valle.

“We’re bringing the four police chiefs to testify publicly that they’re not going to do the work of the federal government,” Valle said. “If the federal government wants to (act in Alameda County), they’re going to have to do it without local support.”

Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.