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San Diego Studies How To Improve Immigrant Outreach

Amina, an immigrant from Kenya, looks at the San Diego skyline across the bay...

Credit: Amina/The Aja Project

Above: Amina, an immigrant from Kenya, looks at the San Diego skyline across the bay in this undated photo.

>San Diego Studies How To Improve Immigrant Outreach

GUESTS:

Samuel Tsoi, organizer, Welcoming San Diego

Joel Day, executive director, San Diego Human Relations Commission

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New Americans in San Diego

New Americans in San Diego

A report on the role foreign-born San Diegans play in the regional economy.

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A coalition of San Diego officials, business leaders, academics and immigrant rights groups are moving forward with plans to study how the city can improve immigrant integration.

The coalition, Welcoming San Diego, had its first public event Friday, sharing new data on immigrants’ impact on the local economy and brainstorming possible reforms. The data showed immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs and have outsized buying power than the rest of the population.

Welcoming San Diego is working on a report due out this fall suggesting what steps the city could take.

“There’s some general concerns around better language access. Every group mentioned language access as something we can do better,” said Samuel Tsoi, a Welcoming San Diego organizer and assistant director at UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center. Tsoi helped form the group last year when he was a fellow at RISE San Diego.

One option is San Diego could form a new office for immigrant integration. Tsoi worked for Massachusetts’ Office for Refugees and Immigrants and said it helped “quarterback” myriad efforts. The city of Atlanta, working on a similar initiative, used its office to set up multicultural liaison units for police.

Joel Day, executive director of both the city of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission and International Affairs Board, said the city is looking at the size and scope of other cities’ efforts.

“It may not necessarily require government resources going into it,” Day said. “The biggest mistake would be to devote general fund money if it doesn’t need it, especially in tough years.”

Welcoming San Diego will have five neighborhood forums across the city in April and May to solicit community feedback.

Tsoi and Day joined KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday with more on how San Diego could be more welcoming to immigrants.

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