El Centro Hispano, the Refugee Community Partnership and the Refugee Support Center are all in need of funding.
El Centro is seeking to expand its immigration legal services and faith ID program and Refugee Community Partnership seeks to expand its employment, support and opportunity services. The Refugee Support Center needs a space.
“The Refugee Support Center was recently notified that they would need to vacate their donated office space, and they are seeking funds to support a new office space and expanded services through their Pathways to Citizenship Program,” said Susan Clifford, Immigration and Refugee Health Program Manager at the Orange County Public Health Department.
Clifford presented the request for funding to the Orange County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday. She said the organizations need $79,628 for the respective projects.
She said Refugee Community Partnership is asking for $14,120 and the Refugee Support Center is asking for $11,340. The rest is for El Centro.
“$54,168 would be towards El Centro Hispano’s expanded immigrant legal services including a new BIA Rep,” she said. “Which is a Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative, and a project coordinator position.”
Clifford said each organization is asking for the money to be allocated from the board’s $350,000 Social Justice Fund.
But Orange County resident Riley Ruske said he doesn’t think the board should use the funds to potentially support illegal immigrants.
“They have, by their own actions, committed a crime against the United States and the citizens of the United States,” he said. “They are criminals, and illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. In addition to illegal entry, these foreign nationals rob United States citizens of jobs, education, healthcare and social services.”
But Chapel Hill resident Heather Brutz said it’s important to support all immigrants.
“My grandmother fled the Nazis and was a refugee who ended up going to Paraguay, because that was one of the few countries where she could go,” Brutz said. “It’s a very poor country and I feel that the United States in comparison is very wealthy, and I think that if Paraguay can go and be welcoming then we should be able to be welcoming as well.”
However, Orange County resident and attorney Ken Rothrock said Orange County should support immigrants, but should use this funding for those who legally obtain citizenship.
“Our country was built on legal immigration,” he said. “We’re a great melting pot and we need immigrants to come here. But we need people who come here to play by the rules. We have rules. You folks got elected because we have rules. But I tell you what, if you start passing this kind of stuff, then more and more people are going to stand up against you, and rightly so.”
Board member Earl McKee said nothing in the agenda item specifies what immigrants the funds would be supporting.
“As I’m reading this, this is not directed at undocumented,” he said. “It very well may include some undocumented, but as I’m reading this, there are a lot of different cultures represented and it’s not entirely Hispanic.”
The Board passed the request for funding unanimously.