SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson on Monday sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting the federal government send additional financial assistance to counties taking in Afghan and Ukrainian refugees.
The letter comes days after Biden announced the United States will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said San Diego County would join other major metropolitan areas in welcoming those seeking asylum.
“As the number of people fleeing Ukraine continues to increase, coupled with your recent decision to admit 100,000 refugees into the U.S., the citizens of San Diego are once again willing to welcome the displaced with open arms,” Anderson wrote to the president. “However, to do so successfully will require additional funding from the administration to support this population.”
Anderson requested the Biden administration provide funding to counties proportional to the number of refugees they are receiving in order to help cover resettlement costs.
Last week, Fletcher said the county would provide services to those fleeing Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, building upon county assistance already provided to asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Ukraine who crossed from Mexico into the U.S.
“Our county has time and again stepped up to help refugees and this time is no different,” Fletcher said on Thursday. “Together with Los Angeles and Sacramento, we are the largest metropolitan regions in California expected to accept these refugees. Recognizing that the county may start receiving refugees from Ukraine, I want to be clear that we stand ready to continue to work with our Resettlement Agency partners to welcome them into our communities.”
Anderson commented on the possibility of Biden rolling back Title 42 orders — orders that allow the United States to expel certain asylum seekers and refugees — which he said may effect a “substantial increase” in the number of immigrants entering the U.S. at the San Diego-Tijuana port of entry.
A statement from his office said this influx of people “will likely burden the already overwhelmed resettlement agencies and community organizations working to welcome both immigrants and refugees into our nation.”
Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, more than 25% of the 11,000 Afghan refugees arriving in California resettled in San Diego County.
During that process, Anderson identified an estimated $9.5 billion in frozen Afghan government assets as a potential funding source for resettlement activities. In a similar fashion, Anderson’s letter Monday requests the use of any frozen Russian government assets to be used to fund the needed resources for the Ukrainian refugee populations.