Subcommittee: Encinitas should join ‘welcoming’ initiative

ENCINITAS — An Encinitas subcommittee recommends that the city fully commit to participating in a White House program that calls for communities to embrace its immigrant and refugee populations.

The “Welcoming Communities” subcommittee composed of Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer met twice in January and have issued a draft of their recommendations, which the entire council will discuss Feb. 24.

City officials are exploring participation in the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, an initiative through the White House Task Force on New Americans aimed at encouraging communities to engage in local immigration and refugee integration efforts. The national program is in partnership with Welcome America, a national nonprofit with similar goals.

Kranz and Shaffer said the goal of the subcommittee was to see where the city could potentially add value to services already being provided across the county for immigrants, including through the county, San Diego 211, local community colleges and various nonprofit organizations.

“While there are many programs and services available, it is not always easy for residents, whether newly arrived or having lived here for a while, to know what is offered and how to participate,” according to the subcommittee report. “So the subcommittee considered where value could be added, not reinventing the wheel, but making sure our residents can make the most of what is already in place. This desire to focus on real value added underlies our recommendations.”

The subcommittee made seven recommendations, including to join the White House Task Force on New Americans’ Welcoming Communities Initiative; work with existing nonprofits and stakeholders to develop an inventory of existing services throughout the area; work with the library and social services providers to develop a volunteer registry, which would solicit volunteers and other resources; obtain demographic information about the immigrant and refugee populations in Encinitas; develop a resolution for City Council consideration, stating our commitment to being a welcoming community, and inviting civic, business, and nonprofit organizations to do the same, and share the resolution with other cities and encourage them to adopt similar ones; as well as visibly show on the city website and other materials the commitment to the welcoming communities campaign.

The subcommittee also recommended to consider sending the Board of Supervisors a proposal to consider a countywide initiative modeled after the Live Well San Diego Program.

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