Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher Applauds Wins for Working Families and Immigrants in New State Budget

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Assemblywoman’s Efforts to Expand Child Care, Accommodate Refugee Students, Provide Legal  Services to Deported Veterans Reflected in Final State Spending Plan for 2017-18

SACRAMENTO – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) today applauded the Legislature’s passage of a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year that includes several measures she led to benefit low-income families and immigrants.

The spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 will include $25 million to expand the eligibility for young parents to receive assistance in paying for child care, to provide immigrants who served in the U.S. military legal representation if they were deported, and $10 million to assist K-12 schools with high numbers of refugee children to hire translators, counselors or supplemental support staff needed to help refugee students successfully integrate into their learning environment.

“As the Trump Administration turns against our working class and the immigrant and refugee communities in San Diego, California’s legislators show we will fight for everyone,”  Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “We take pride in ensuring that struggling young parents can get access to reliable child care so they can go to work. We’re proud to extend a hand to the men and women who served our country so that they can return to their families here in California. And we should be happy to roll out the welcome mat to refugees who seek lives of freedom in our state when too many in Washington think it’s more politically expedient to shun them.”

Among the spending items that were approved as part of the 2017-18 state budget:

  • $10 million in supplemental support grants to Local Education Agencies in counties with high child refugee populations. This grant could be used to hire translators, counselors or supplemental support staff needed to help refugee children successfully integrate into California schools. More than 30,000 refugees currently live in San Diego County, with many of them residing in the San Diego neighborhood of City Heights where the Assemblywoman lives and attending a K-12 school in the San Diego Unified School District. This budget request was a part of the “California Welcomes Refugees” legislative package spearheaded by Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher and Assemblymen Ken McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Adrin Nazarian (D-San Fernando Valley).
  • $25 million to extend the eligibility period for parents who apply for subsidized child care or preschool from three months to 12 months. The child care extension will also make more parents eligible to seek the child care benefit by raising the maximum allowed annual income for a family of three from $42,216 to $52,298 to better accommodate the impacts of the rising minimum wage. The effort to expand child care eligibility was led by Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), both of whom introduced a companion measure, Assembly Bill 60, to include more parents in the benefit.
  • The eligibility of deported military veterans with ties to California to receive funding for legal representation as they seek a return to the United States from the $45 million “One California” fund that assists immigrants with legal services funding. Deported veterans could seek funding for legal services related to post-conviction relief, applying for a pardon, or in federal immigration proceedings that could lead to their reinstatement in the United States.

    The ACLU of California estimates more than 250 veterans have been deported to 34 countries, although the precise number of deported veterans is unclear, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency responsible for the deportations, does not keep track of those figures. An estimated 70,000 noncitizens enlisted in the U.S. military from 1999 to 2008, according to the Center for Naval Analyses, a research and development center for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps. Special provisions of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. Armed Forces and recently discharged service members. These provisions are being flouted or ignored when it comes to these veterans, many of whom came to the United States as children, grew up here, and consider themselves patriotic Americans. In many cases, the veterans who are deported are sent to countries with which they do not speak the language or have any real connection.
  • Several funding needs identified by the California Latino Legislative Caucus, where Assemblywoman Gonzalez  Fletcher serves as Vice Chair, such as $45 million in funding to the aforementioned One California legal assistance program, $5 million to develop bilingual teachers to better serve the 1.3 million K-12 students  in California who are classified as English learners, planning and outreach for the 2020 Census, maintaining the maximum Cal-Grant award level at California colleges, increased funding for the California State University, creating Hunger-Free Campus programs at California colleges, $7 million to establish veterans resource centers at community colleges, and $10 million allocated to the Equal Access Fund to help low-income Californians afford a lawyer in court cases.

For more information on the 2017-18 California state budget, the priorities of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact Evan McLaughlin at (916) 319-2080 or (619) 850-2790.